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Title: Life of Johnson, Volume 4 - 1780-1784
Author: Boswell, James, 1740-1795
Language: English
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VOLUME IV.--LIFE (1780-1784)


LIFE OF SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D. (1780-DEC. 13, 1784)





Being disappointed in my hopes of meeting Johnson this year, so that I
could hear none of his admirable sayings, I shall compensate for this
want[1] by inserting a collection of them, for which I am indebted to my
worthy friend Mr. Langton, whose kind communications have been
separately interwoven in many parts of this work. Very few articles of
this collection were committed to writing by himself, he not having that
habit; which he regrets, and which those who know the numerous
opportunities he had of gathering the rich fruits of _Johnsonian_ wit
and wisdom, must ever regret. I however found, in conversations with
him, that a good store of _Johnsoniana_ treasured in his mind[2]; and I
compared it to Herculaneum, or some old Roman field, which when dug,
fully rewards the labour employed. The authenticity of every article is
unquestionable. For the expression, I, who wrote them down in his
presence, am partly answerable.

'Theocritus is not deserving of very high respect as a writer; as to the
pastoral part, Virgil is very evidently superiour. He wrote when there
had been a larger influx of knowledge into the world than when
Theocritus lived. Theocritus does not abound in description, though
living in a beautiful country: the manners painted are coarse and gross.
Virgil has much more description, more sentiment, more of Nature, and
more of art. Some of the most excellent parts of Theocritus are, where
Castor and Pollux, going with the other Argonauts, land on the Bebrycian
coast, and there fall into a dispute with Amycus, the King of that
country; which is as well conducted as Euripides could have done it; and
the battle is well related. Afterwards they carry off a woman, whose two
brothers come to recover her, and expostulate with Castor and Pollux on
their injustice; but they pay no regard to the brothers, and a battle
ensues, where Castor and his brother are triumphant. Theocritus seems
not to have seen that the brothers have the advantage in their argument
over his Argonaut heroes. _The Sicilian Gossips_ is a piece of merit.'

'Callimachus is a writer of little excellence. The chief thing to be
learned from him is his account of Rites and Mythology; which, though
desirable to be known for the sake of understanding other parts of
ancient authours, is the least pleasing or valuable part of their

'Mattaire's account of the Stephani[3] is a heavy book. He seems to have
been a puzzle-headed man, with a large share of scholarship, but with
little geometry or logick in his head, without method, and possessed of
little genius. He wrote Latin verses from time to time, and published a
set in his old age, which he called '_Senilia_;' in which he shews so
little learning or taste in writing, as to make _Carteret_ a dactyl[4].
In matters of genealogy it is necessary to give the bare names as they
are; but in poetry, and in prose of any elegance in the writing, they
require to have inflection given to them. His book of the Dialects[5] is
a sad heap of confusion; the only way to write on them is to tabulate
them with Notes, added at the bottom of the page, and references.'

'It may be questioned, whether there is not some mistake as to the
methods of employing the poor, seemingly on a supposition that there is
a certain portion of work left undone for want of persons to do it; but
if that is otherwise, and all the materials we have are actually worked
up, or all the manufactures we can use or dispose of are already
executed, then what is given to the poor, who are to be set at work,
must be taken from some who now have it; as time must be taken for
learning, according to Sir William Petty's observation, a certain part
of those very materials that, as it is, are properly worked up, must be
spoiled by the unskilfulness of novices. We may apply to well-meaning,
but misjudging persons in particulars of this nature, what Giannone[6]
said to a monk, who wanted what he called to _convert_ him: _"Tu sei
santo, ma tu non sei filosofo"_--It is an unhappy circumstance that one
might give away five hundred pounds in a year to those that importune in
the streets, and not do any good[7].'

'There is nothing more likely to betray a man into absurdity than
_condescension_; when he seems to suppose his understanding too powerful
for his company[8].'

'Having asked Mr. Langton if his father and mother had sat for their
pictures, which he thought it right for each generation of a family to
do, and being told they had opposed it, he said, "Sir, among the
anfractuosities[9] of the human mind, I know not if it may not be one,
that there is a superstitious reluctance to sit for a picture."'

'John Gilbert Cooper[10] related, that soon after the publication of his
_Dictionary_, Garrick being asked by Johnson what people said of it,
told him, that among other animadversions, it was objected that he cited
authorities which were beneath the dignity of such a work, and mentioned
Richardson. "Nay, (said Johnson,) I have done worse than that: I have
cited _thee_, David[11]."'

'Talking of expence, he observed, with what munificence a great merchant
will spend his money, both from his having it at command, and from his
enlarged views by calculation of a good effect upon the whole. "Whereas
(said he) you will hardly ever find a country gentleman who is not a
good deal disconcerted at an unexpected occasion for his being obliged
to lay out ten pounds[12]."'

'When in good humour he would talk of his own writings with a wonderful
frankness and candour, and would even criticise them with the closest
severity. One day, having read over one of his Ramblers, Mr. Langton
asked him, how he liked that paper; he shook his head, and answered,
"too wordy." At another time, when one was reading his tragedy of
_Irene_ to a company at a house in the country, he left the room; and
somebody having asked him the reason of this, he replied, Sir, I thought
it had been better[13].'

'Talking of a point of delicate scrupulosity[14] of moral conduct, he
said to Mr. Langton, "Men of harder minds than ours will do many things
from which you and I would shrink; yet, Sir, they will perhaps do more
good in life than we. But let us try to help one another. If there be a
wrong twist it may be set right. It is not probable that two people can
be wrong the same way."'

'Of the Preface to Capel's _Shakspeare_, he said, "If the man would have
come to me, I would have endeavoured to endow his purposes with words;
for as it is, he doth gabble monstrously[15]."'

'He related, that he had once in a dream a contest of wit with some
other person, and that he was very much mortified by imagining that his
opponent had the better of him. "Now, (said he,) one may mark here the
effect of sleep in weakening the power of reflection; for had not my
judgement failed me, I should have seen, that the wit of this supposed
antagonist, by whose superiority I felt myself depressed, was as much
furnished by me, as that which I thought I had been uttering in my own

'One evening in company, an ingenious and learned gentleman read to him
a letter of compliment which he had received from one of the Professors
of a foreign University. Johnson, in an irritable fit, thinking there
was too much ostentation, said, "I never receive any of these tributes
of applause from abroad. One instance I recollect of a foreign
publication, in which mention is made of _l'illustre Lockman_[16]."'

'Of Sir Joshua Reynolds, he said, "Sir, I know no man who has passed
through life with more observation than Reynolds."'

'He repeated to Mr. Langton, with great energy, in the Greek, our
SAVIOUR'S gracious expression concerning the forgiveness of Mary
Magdalen, "[Greek: Ae pistis sou sesoke se poreuou eis eiraeuaeu.] Thy
faith hath saved thee; go in peace[17]." He said, "the manner of this
dismission is exceedingly affecting."'

'He thus defined the difference between physical and moral truth;
"Physical truth, is, when you tell a thing as it actually is. Moral
truth, is, when you tell a thing sincerely and precisely as it appears
to you. I say such a one walked across the street; if he really did so,
I told a physical truth. If I thought so, though I should have been
mistaken, I told a moral truth."'

'Huggins, the translator of Ariosto, and Mr. Thomas Warton, in the early
part of his literary life, had a dispute concerning that poet, of whom
Mr. Warton in his _Observations on Spenser's Fairy Queen_, gave some
account, which Huggins attempted to answer with violence, and said, "I
will _militate_ no longer against his _nescience_." Huggins was master
of the subject, but wanted expression. Mr. Warton's knowledge of it was
then imperfect, but his manner lively and elegant[18]. Johnson said, "It
appears to me, that Huggins has ball without powder, and Warton powder
without ball."'

'Talking of the Farce of _High Life below Stairs_[19], he said, "Here is
a Farce, which is really very diverting when you see it acted; and yet
one may read it, and not know that one has been reading any thing
at all."'

'He used at one time to go occasionally to the green room of Drury-lane
Theatre[20], where he was much regarded by the players, and was very
easy and facetious with them. He had a very high opinion of Mrs. Clive's
comick powers, and conversed more with her than with any of them. He
said, "Clive, Sir, is a good thing to sit by; she always understands
what you say[21]." And she said of him, "I love to sit by Dr. Johnson;
he always entertains me." One night, when _The Recruiting Officer_ was
acted, he said to Mr. Holland[22], who had been expressing an
apprehension that Dr. Johnson would disdain the works of Farquhar; "No,
Sir, I think Farquhar a man whose writings have considerable merit."'

'His friend Garrick was so busy in conducting the drama, that they could
not have so much intercourse as Mr. Garrick used to profess an anxious
wish that there should be[23]. There might, indeed, be something in the
contemptuous severity as to the merit of acting, which his old preceptor
nourished in himself, that would mortify Garrick after the great
applause which he received from the audience. For though Johnson said of
him, "Sir, a man who has a nation to admire him every night, may well be
expected to be somewhat elated[24];" yet he would treat theatrical
matters with a ludicrous slight. He mentioned one evening, "I met David
coming off the stage, drest in a woman's riding-hood, when he acted in
_The Wonder_[25]; I came full upon him, and I believe he was not

'Once he asked Tom Davies, whom he saw drest in a fine suit of clothes,
"And what art thou to-night?" Tom answered, "The Thane of Ross[26];"
(which it will be recollected is a very inconsiderable character.) "O
brave!" said Johnson.'

'Of Mr. Longley, at Rochester, a gentleman of very considerable
learning, whom Dr. Johnson met there, he said, "My heart warms towards
him. I was surprised to find in him such a nice acquaintance with the
metre in the learned languages; though I was somewhat mortified that I
had it not so much to myself, as I should have thought[27]."'

'Talking of the minuteness with which people will record the sayings of
eminent persons, a story was told, that when Pope was on a visit to
Spence[28] at Oxford, as they looked from the window they saw a
Gentleman Commoner, who was just come in from riding, amusing himself
with whipping at a post. Pope took occasion to say, "That young
gentleman seems to have little to do." Mr. Beauclerk observed, "Then, to
be sure, Spence turned round and wrote that down;" and went on to say to
Dr. Johnson, "Pope, Sir, would have said the same of you, if he had seen
you distilling[29]." JOHNSON. "Sir, if Pope had told me of my
distilling, I would have told him of his grotto[30]."'

'He would allow no settled indulgence of idleness upon principle, and
always repelled every attempt to urge excuses for it, A friend one day
suggested, that it was not wholesome to study soon after dinner.
JOHNSON. "Ah, Sir, don't give way to such a fancy. At one time of my
life I had taken it into my head that it was not wholesome to study
between breakfast and dinner[31]."'

'Mr. Beauclerk one day repeated to Dr. Johnson Pope's lines,

     "Let modest Foster, if he will, excel
      Ten metropolitans in preaching well:" [32]

Then asked the Doctor, "Why did Pope say this?" JOHNSON. 'Sir, he hoped
it would vex somebody.'

'Dr. Goldsmith, upon occasion of Mrs. Lennox's bringing out a play[33],
said to Dr. Johnson at the CLUB, that a person had advised him to go and
hiss it, because she had attacked Shakspeare in her book called
_Shakspeare Illustrated_[34]. JOHNSON. "And did not you tell him he was
a rascal[35]?" GOLDSMITH. "No, Sir, I did not. Perhaps he might not mean
what he said." JOHNSON. "Nay, Sir, if he lied, it is a different thing."
Colman slily said, (but it is believed Dr. Johnson did not hear him,)
"Then the proper expression should have been,--Sir, if you don't lie,
you're a rascal."'

'His affection for Topham Beauclerk was so great, that when Beauclerk
was labouring under that severe illness which at last occasioned his
death, Johnson said, (with a voice faultering with emotion,) "Sir, I
would walk to the extent of the diameter of the earth to save

'One night at the CLUB he produced a translation of an Epitaph which
Lord Elibank had written in English, for his Lady, and requested of
Johnson to turn into Latin for him. Having read _Domina de North et
Gray_, he said to Dyer, "You see, Sir, what barbarisms we are compelled
to make use of, when modern titles are to be specifically mentioned in
Latin inscriptions." When he had read it once aloud, and there had been
a general approbation expressed by the company, he addressed himself to
Mr. Dyer in particular, and said, "Sir, I beg to have your judgement,
for I know your nicety[37]." Dyer then very properly desired to read it
over again; which having done, he pointed out an incongruity in one of
the sentences. Johnson immediately assented to the observation, and
said, "Sir, this is owing to an alteration of a part of the sentence,
from the form in which I had first written it; and I believe, Sir, you
may have remarked, that the making a partial change, without a due
regard to the general structure of the sentence, is a very frequent
cause of errour in composition."'

'Johnson was well acquainted with Mr. Dossie, authour of a treatise on
Agriculture[38]; and said of him, "Sir, of the objects which the Society
of Arts have chiefly in view, the chymical effects of bodies operating
upon other bodies, he knows more than almost any man." Johnson, in order
to give Mr. Dossie his vote to be a member of this Society, paid up an
arrear which had run on for two years. On this occasion he mentioned a
circumstance as characteristick of the Scotch. One of that nation, (said
he,) who had been a candidate, against whom I had voted, came up to me
with a civil salutation. Now, Sir, this is their way. An Englishman
would have stomached it, and been sulky, and never have taken further
notice of you; but a Scotchman, Sir, though you vote nineteen times
against him, will accost you with equal complaisance after each time,
and the twentieth time, Sir, he will get your vote.'

'Talking on the subject of toleration, one day when some friends were
with him in his study, he made his usual remark, that the State has a
right to regulate the religion of the people, who are the children of
the State[39]. A clergyman having readily acquiesced in this, Johnson,
who loved discussion, observed, "But, Sir, you must go round to other
States than our own. You do not know what a Bramin has to say for
himself[40]. In short, Sir, I have got no further than this: Every man
has a right to utter what he thinks truth, and every other man has a
right to knock him down for it. Martyrdom is the test[41]."'

'A man, he observed, should begin to write soon; for, if he waits till
his judgement is matured, his inability, through want of practice to
express his conceptions, will make the disproportion so great between
what he sees, and what he can attain, that he will probably be
discouraged from writing at all[42]. As a proof of the justness of this
remark, we may instance what is related of the great Lord Granville[43];
that after he had written his letter, giving an account of the battle of
Dettingen, he said, "Here is a letter, expressed in terms not good
enough for a tallow-chandler to have used.'"

'Talking of a Court-martial that was sitting upon a very momentous
publick occasion, he expressed much doubt of an enlightened decision;
and said, that perhaps there was not a member of it, who in the whole
course of his life, had ever spent an hour by himself in balancing

'Goldsmith one day brought to the CLUB a printed Ode, which he, with
others, had been hearing read by its authour in a publick room at the
rate of five shillings each for admission[45]. One of the company having
read it aloud, Dr. Johnson said, "Bolder words and more timorous
meaning, I think never were brought together."'

'Talking of Gray's _Odes_, he said, "They are forced plants raised in a
hot-bed[46]; and they are poor plants; they are but cucumbers after
all." A gentleman present, who had been running down Ode-writing in
general, as a bad species of poetry, unluckily said, "Had they been
literally cucumbers, they had been better things than Odes."--"Yes, Sir,
(said Johnson,) for a _hog_."'

'His distinction of the different degrees of attainment of learning was
thus marked upon two occasions. Of Queen Elizabeth he said, "She had
learning enough to have given dignity to a bishop;" and of Mr. Thomas
Davies he said, "Sir, Davies has learning enough to give credit to a

'He used to quote, with great warmth, the saying of Aristotle recorded
by Diogenes Laertius[48]; that there was the same difference between one
learned and unlearned, as between the living and the dead.'

'It is very remarkable, that he retained in his memory very slight and
trivial, as well as important things[49]. As an instance of this, it
seems that an inferiour domestick of the Duke of Leeds had attempted to
celebrate his Grace's marriage in such homely rhimes as he could make;
and this curious composition having been sung to Dr. Johnson he got it
by heart, and used to repeat it in a very pleasant manner. Two of the
stanzas were these:--

     "When the Duke of Leeds shall married be
      To a fine young lady of high quality,
      How happy will that gentlewoman be
      In his Grace of Leeds's good company.

      She shall have all that's fine and fair,
      And the best of silk and sattin shall wear;
      And ride in a coach to take the air,
      And have a house in St. James's-square[50]."

To hear a man, of the weight and dignity of Johnson, repeating such
humble attempts at poetry, had a very amusing effect. He, however,
seriously observed of the last stanza repeated by him, that it nearly
comprized all the advantages that wealth can give.'

'An eminent foreigner, when he was shewn the British Museum, was very
troublesome with many absurd inquiries. "Now there, Sir, (said he,) is
the difference between an Englishman and a Frenchman. A Frenchman must
be always talking, whether he knows any thing of the matter or not; an
Englishman is content to say nothing, when he has nothing to say."'

'His unjust contempt for foreigners was, indeed, extreme. One evening,
at old Slaughter's coffee-house[51], when a number of them were talking
loud about little matters, he said, "Does not this confirm old
Meynell's[52] observation--_For any thing I see, foreigners are

'He said, that once, when he had a violent tooth-ach, a Frenchman
accosted him thus:--_Ah, Monsieur vous etudiez trop_[54].'

'Having spent an evening at Mr. Langton's with the Reverend Dr. Parr, he
was much pleased with the conversation of that learned gentleman; and
after he was gone, said to Mr. Langton, "Sir, I am obliged to you for
having asked me this evening. Parr is a fair man. I do not know when I
have had an occasion of such free controversy. It is remarkable how much
of a man's life may pass without meeting with any instance of this kind
of open discussion[55]."'

'We may fairly institute a criticism between Shakspeare and
Corneille[56], as they both had, though in a different degree, the
lights of a latter age. It is not so just between the Greek dramatick
writers and Shakspeare. It may be replied to what is said by one of the
remarkers on Shakspeare, that though Darius's shade[57] had
_prescience_, it does not necessarily follow that he had all _past_
particulars revealed to him.'

'Spanish plays, being wildly and improbably farcical, would please
children here, as children are entertained with stories full of
prodigies; their experience not being sufficient to cause them to be so
readily startled at deviations from the natural course of life[58]. The
machinery of the Pagans is uninteresting to us[59]: when a Goddess
appears in Homer or Virgil, we grow weary; still more so in the Grecian
tragedies, as in that kind of composition a nearer approach to Nature is
intended. Yet there are good reasons for reading romances; as--the
fertility of invention, the beauty of style and expression, the
curiosity of seeing with what kind of performances the age and country
in which they were written was delighted: for it is to be apprehended,
that at the time when very wild improbable tales were well received, the
people were in a barbarous state, and so on the footing of children, as
has been explained.'

'It is evident enough that no one who writes now can use the Pagan
deities and mythology; the only machinery, therefore, seems that of
ministering spirits, the ghosts of the departed, witches[60], and
fairies, though these latter, as the vulgar superstition concerning them
(which, while in its force, infected at least the imagination of those
that had more advantage in education, though their reason set them free
from it,) is every day wearing out, seem likely to be of little further
assistance in the machinery of poetry. As I recollect, Hammond
introduces a hag or witch into one of his love elegies, where the effect
is unmeaning and disgusting[61].'

'The man who uses his talent of ridicule in creating or grossly
exaggerating the instances he gives, who imputes absurdities that did
not happen, or when a man was a little ridiculous describes him as
having been very much so, abuses his talents greatly. The great use of
delineating absurdities is, that we may know how far human folly can go;
the account, therefore, ought of absolute necessity to be faithful. A
certain character (naming the person) as to the general cast of it, is
well described by Garrick, but a great deal of the phraseology he uses
in it, is quite his own, particularly in the proverbial comparisons,
"obstinate as a pig," &c., but I don't know whether it might not be true
of Lord ------[62], that from a too great eagerness of praise and
popularity, and a politeness carried to a ridiculous excess, he was
likely, after asserting a thing in general, to give it up again in
parts. For instance, if he had said Reynolds was the first of painters,
he was capable enough of giving up, as objections might happen to be
severally made, first his outline,--then the grace in form,--then the
colouring,--and lastly, to have owned that he was such a mannerist, that
the disposition of his pictures was all alike.'

'For hospitality, as formerly practised, there is no longer the same
reason; heretofore the poorer people were more numerous, and from want
of commerce, their means of getting a livelihood more difficult;
therefore the supporting them was an act of great benevolence; now that
the poor can find maintenance for themselves, and their labour is
wanted, a general undiscerning hospitality tends to ill, by withdrawing
them from their work to idleness and drunkenness. Then, formerly rents
were received in kind, so that there was a great abundance of provisions
in possession of the owners of the lands, which, since the plenty of
money afforded by commerce, is no longer the case.'

'Hospitality to strangers and foreigners in our country is now almost at
an end, since, from the increase of them that come to us, there have
been a sufficient number of people that have found an interest in
providing inns and proper accommodations, which is in general a more
expedient method for the entertainment of travellers. Where the
travellers and strangers are few, more of that hospitality subsists, as
it has not been worth while to provide places of accommodation. In
Ireland there is still hospitality to strangers, in some degree; in
Hungary and Poland probably more.'

'Colman, in a note on his translation of _Terence_, talking of
Shakspeare's learning, asks, "What says Farmer to this? What says
Johnson[63]?" Upon this he observed, "Sir, let Farmer answer for
himself: _I_ never engaged in this controversy. I always said,
Shakspeare had Latin enough to grammaticise his English[64]."'

'A clergyman, whom he characterised as one who loved to say little
oddities, was affecting one day, at a Bishop's table, a sort of slyness
and freedom not in character, and repeated, as if part of _The Old Mans
Wish_, a song by Dr. Walter Pope, a verse bordering on licentiousness.
Johnson rebuked him in the finest manner, by first shewing him that he
did not know the passage he was aiming at, and thus humbling him: "Sir,
that is not the song: it is thus." And he gave it right. Then looking
stedfastly on him, "Sir, there is a part of that song which I should
wish to exemplify in my own life:--

"May I govern my passions with absolute sway[65]!"'

'Being asked if Barnes knew a good deal of Greek, he answered, "I doubt,
Sir, he was _unoculus inter caecos[66]_."'

'He used frequently to observe, that men might be very eminent in a
profession, without our perceiving any particular power of mind in them
in conversation. "It seems strange (said he) that a man should see so
far to the right, who sees so short a way to the left. Burke is the only
man whose common conversation corresponds with the general fame which
he has in the world. Take up whatever topick you please, he is ready to
meet you[67]."'

'A gentleman, by no means deficient in literature, having discovered
less acquaintance with one of the Classicks than Johnson expected, when
the gentleman left the room, he observed, "You see, now, how little any
body reads." Mr. Langton happening to mention his having read a good
deal in Clenardus's _Greek Grammar_, "Why, Sir, (said he,) who is there
in this town who knows any thing of Clenardus but you and I?" And upon
Mr. Langton's mentioning that he had taken the pains to learn by heart
the Epistle of St. Basil, which is given in that Grammar as a praxis,
"Sir, (said he,) I never made such an effort to attain Greek[68]."'

'Of Dodsley's _Publick Virtue, a Poem_, he said, "It was fine _blank_
(meaning to express his usual contempt for blank verse[69]); however,
this miserable poem did not sell, and my poor friend Doddy said, Publick
Virtue was not a subject to interest the age."'

'Mr. Langton, when a very young man, read Dodsley's _Cleone a
Tragedy_[70], to him, not aware of his extreme impatience to be read to.
As it went on he turned his face to the back of his chair, and put
himself into various attitudes, which marked his uneasiness. At the end
of an act, however, he said, "Come let's have some more, let's go into
the slaughter-house again, Lanky. But I am afraid there is more blood
than brains." Yet he afterwards said, "When I heard you read it, I
thought higher of its power of language: when I read it myself, I was
more sensible of its pathetick effect;" and then he paid it a compliment
which many will think very extravagant. "Sir, (said he,) if Otway had
written this play, no other of his pieces would have been remembered."
Dodsley himself, upon this being repeated to him, said, "It was too
much:" it must be remembered, that Johnson always appeared not to be
sufficiently sensible of the merit of Otway[71].'

'Snatches of reading (said he) will not make a Bentley or a Clarke. They
are, however, in a certain degree advantageous. I would put a child into
a library (where no unfit books are) and let him read at his choice. A
child should not be discouraged from reading any thing that he takes a
liking to, from a notion that it is above his reach. If that be the
case, the child will soon find it out and desist; if not, he of course
gains the instruction; which is so much the more likely to come, from
the inclination with which he takes up the study[72].'

'Though he used to censure carelessness with great vehemence, he owned,
that he once, to avoid the trouble of locking up five guineas, hid them,
he forgot where, so that he could not find them.'

'A gentleman who introduced his brother to Dr. Johnson was earnest to
recommend him to the Doctor's notice, which he did by saying, "When we
have sat together some time, you'll find my brother grow very
entertaining."--"Sir, (said Johnson,) I can wait."'

'When the rumour was strong that we should have a war, because the
French would assist the Americans, he rebuked a friend with some
asperity for supposing it, saying, "No, Sir, national faith is not yet
sunk so low."'

'In the latter part of his life, in order to satisfy himself whether his
mental faculties were impaired, he resolved that he would try to learn a
new language, and fixed upon the Low Dutch, for that purpose, and this
he continued till he had read about one half of _Thomas à Kempis_; and
finding that there appeared no abatement of his power of acquisition, he
then desisted, as thinking the experiment had been duly tried[73]. Mr.
Burke justly observed, that this was not the most vigorous trial, Low
Dutch being a language so near to our own; had it been one of the
languages entirely different, he might have been very soon satisfied.'

'Mr. Langton and he having gone to see a Freemason's funeral procession,
when they were at Rochester[74], and some solemn musick being played on
French horns, he said, "This is the first time that I have ever been
affected by musical sounds;" adding, "that the impression made upon him
was of a melancholy kind." Mr. Langton saying, that this effect was a
fine one,--JOHNSON. "Yes, if it softens the mind, so as to prepare it
for the reception of salutary feelings, it may be good: but inasmuch as
it is melancholy _per se_, it is bad[75]."'

'Goldsmith had long a visionary project, that some time or other when
his circumstances should be easier, he would go to Aleppo, in order to
acquire a knowledge as far as might be of any arts peculiar to the East,
and introduce them into Britain. When this was talked of in Dr.
Johnson's company, he said, "Of all men Goldsmith is the most unfit to
go out upon such an inquiry; for he is utterly ignorant of such arts as
we already possess, and consequently could not know what would be
accessions to our present stock of mechanical knowledge. Sir, he would
bring home a grinding barrow, which you see in every street in London,
and think that he had furnished a wonderful improvement[76]."'

'Greek, Sir, (said he,) is like lace; every man gets as much of it as he

'When Lord Charles Hay[78], after his return from America, was preparing
his defence to be offered to the Court-Martial which he had demanded,
having heard Mr. Langton as high in expressions of admiration of
Johnson, as he usually was, he requested that Dr. Johnson might be
introduced to him; and Mr. Langton having mentioned it to Johnson, he
very kindly and readily agreed; and being presented by Mr. Langton to
his Lordship, while under arrest, he saw him several times; upon one of
which occasions Lord Charles read to him what he had prepared, which
Johnson signified his approbation of, saying, "It is a very good
soldierly defence." Johnson said, that he had advised his Lordship, that
as it was in vain to contend with those who were in possession of power,
if they would offer him the rank of Lieutenant-General, and a
government, it would be better judged to desist from urging his
complaints. It is well known that his Lordship died before the sentence
was made known.'

'Johnson one day gave high praise to Dr. Bentley's verses[79] in
Dodsley's _Collection_, which he recited with his usual energy. Dr. Adam
Smith, who was present, observed in his decisive professorial manner,
"Very well--Very well." Johnson however added, "Yes, they _are_ very
well, Sir; but you may observe in what manner they are well. They are
the forcible verses of a man of a strong mind, but not accustomed to
write verse[80]; for there is some uncouthness in the expression[81]."'

'Drinking tea one day at Garrick's with Mr. Langton, he was questioned
if he was not somewhat of a heretick as to Shakspeare; said Garrick, "I
doubt he is a little of an infidel[82]."--"Sir, (said Johnson) I will
stand by the lines I have written on Shakspeare in my Prologue at the
opening of your Theatre[83]." Mr. Langton suggested, that in the line

     "And panting Time toil'd after him in vain,"

Johnson might have had in his eye the passage in _The Tempest_, where
Prospero says of Miranda,

     "-------She will outstrip all praise,
      And make it halt behind her[84]."

Johnson said nothing. Garrick then ventured to observe, "I do not think
that the happiest line in the praise of Shakspeare." Johnson exclaimed
(smiling,) "Prosaical rogues! next time I write, I'll make both time and
space pant[85]."'

'It is well known that there was formerly a rude custom for those who
were sailing upon the Thames, to accost each other as they passed, in
the most abusive language they could invent, generally, however, with as
much satirical humour as they were capable of producing. Addison gives a
specimen of this ribaldry, in Number 383 of _The Spectator_, when Sir
Roger de Coverly and he are going to Spring-garden[86]. Johnson was once
eminently successful in this species of contest; a fellow having
attacked him with some coarse raillery, Johnson answered him thus, "Sir,
your wife, _under pretence of keeping a bawdy-house_, is a receiver of
stolen goods[87]." One evening when he and Mr. Burke and Mr. Langton
were in company together, and the admirable scolding of Timon of Athens
was mentioned, this instance of Johnson's was quoted, and thought to
have at least equal excellence.'

'As Johnson always allowed the extraordinary talents of Mr. Burke, so
Mr. Burke was fully sensible of the wonderful powers of Johnson. Mr.
Langton recollects having passed an evening with both of them, when Mr.
Burke repeatedly entered upon topicks which it was evident he would have
illustrated with extensive knowledge and richness of expression; but
Johnson always seized upon the conversation, in which, however, he
acquitted himself in a most masterly manner. As Mr. Burke and Mr.
Langton were walking home, Mr. Burke observed that Johnson had been very
great that night; Mr. Langton joined in this, but added, he could have
wished to hear more from another person; (plainly intimating that he
meant Mr. Burke.) "O, no (said Mr. Burke) it is enough for me to have
rung the bell to him[88]."'

'Beauclerk having observed to him of one of their friends, that he was
aukward at counting money, "Why, Sir, said Johnson, I am likewise
aukward at counting money. But then, Sir, the reason is plain; I have
had very little money to count."'

'He had an abhorrence of affectation[89]. Talking of old Mr. Langton, of
whom he said, "Sir, you will seldom see such a gentleman, such are his
stores of literature, such his knowledge in divinity, and such his
exemplary life;" he added, "and Sir, he has no grimace, no
gesticulation, no bursts of admiration on trivial occasions; he never
embraces you with an overacted cordiality[90]."'

'Being in company with a gentleman who thought fit to maintain Dr.
Berkeley's ingenious philosophy, that nothing exists but as perceived by
some mind[91]; when the gentleman was going away, Johnson said to him,
"Pray, Sir, don't leave us; for we may perhaps forget to think of you,
and then you will cease to exist[92]."'

'Goldsmith, upon being visited by Johnson one day in the Temple, said to
him with a little jealousy of the appearance of his accommodation, "I
shall soon be in better chambers than these." Johnson at the same time
checked him and paid him a handsome compliment, implying that a man of
his talents should be above attention to such distinctions,--'Nay, Sir,
never mind that. _Nil te quaesiveris extra_[93].'

'At the time when his pension was granted to him, he said, with a noble
literary ambition, "Had this happened twenty years years ago, I should
have gone to Constantinople to learn Arabick, as Pococke did[94]."'

'As an instance of the niceness of his taste, though he praised West's
translation of Pindar, he pointed out the following passage as faulty,
by expressing a circumstance so minute as to detract from the general
dignity which should prevail:

     "Down then from thy glittering nail,
      Take, O Muse, thy Dorian _lyre_[95].'"

'When Mr. Vesey[96] was proposed as a member of the LITERARY CLUB, Mr.
Burke began by saying that he was a man of gentle manners. "Sir, said
Johnson, you need say no more. When you have said a man of gentle
manners; you have said enough."'

'The late Mr. Fitzherbert[97] told Mr. Langton that Johnson said to him,
"Sir, a man has no more right to _say_ an uncivil thing, than to _act_
one; no more right to say a rude thing to another than to knock
him down."'

'My dear friend Dr. Bathurst[98], (said he with a warmth of approbation)
declared he was glad that his father, who was a West-Indian planter, had
left his affairs in total ruin, because having no estate, he was not
under the temptation of having slaves.'

'Richardson had little conversation[99], except about his own works, of
which Sir Joshua Reynolds said he was always willing to talk, and glad
to have them introduced. Johnson when he carried Mr. Langton to see him,
professed that he could bring him out into conversation, and used this
allusive expression, "Sir, I can make him _rear._" But he failed; for in
that interview Richardson said little else than that there lay in the
room a translation of his _Clarissa_ into German[100].'

'Once when somebody produced a newspaper in which there was a letter of
stupid abuse of Sir Joshua Reynolds, of which Johnson himself came in
for a share,--"Pray," said he, "let us have it read aloud from beginning
to end;" which being done, he with a ludicrous earnestness, and not
directing his look to any particular person, called out, "Are we alive
after all this satire!"'

'He had a strong prejudice against the political character of
Seeker[101], one instance of which appeared at Oxford, where he
expressed great dissatisfaction at his varying the old established
toast, "Church and King." "The Archbishop of Canterbury, said he (with
an affected smooth smiling grimace) drinks,' Constitution in Church and
State.'" Being asked what difference there was between the two toasts,
he said, "Why, Sir, you may be sure he meant something." Yet when the
life of that prelate, prefixed to his sermons by Dr. Porteus and Dr.
Stinton his chaplains, first came out, he read it with the utmost
avidity, and said, "It is a life well written, and that well deserves to
be recorded."'

'Of a certain noble Lord, he said, "Respect him, you could not; for he
had no mind of his own. Love him you could not; for that which you could
do with him, every one else could[102]."'

'Of Dr. Goldsmith he said, "No man was more foolish when he had not a
pen in his hand, or more wise when he had[103]."'

'He told in his lively manner the following literary anecdote: "Green
and Guthrie[104], an Irishman and a Scotchman, undertook a translation
of Duhalde's _History of China_. Green said of Guthrie, that he knew no
English, and Guthrie of Green, that he knew no French; and these two
undertook to translate Duhalde's _History of China_. In this translation
there was found 'the twenty-sixth day of the new moon.' Now as the whole
age of the moon is but twenty-eight days, the moon instead of being new,
was nearly as old as it could be. Their blunder arose from their
mistaking the word _neuvième_ ninth, for _nouvelle_ or _neuve_, new."'

'Talking of Dr. Blagden's copiousness and precision of communication,
Dr. Johnson said, "Blagden, Sir, is a delightful fellow[105]."'

'On occasion of Dr. Johnson's publishing his pamphlet of _The False
Alarm_[106], there came out a very angry answer (by many supposed to be
by Mr. Wilkes). Dr. Johnson determined on not answering it; but, in
conversation with Mr. Langton, mentioned a particular or two, which if
he _had_ replied to it, he might perhaps have inserted. In the
answerer's pamphlet, it had been said with solemnity, "Do you consider,
Sir, that a House of Commons is to the people as a Creature is to its
Creator[107]?" To this question, said Dr. Johnson, I could have replied,
that--in the first place--the idea of a CREATOR must be such as that he
has a power to unmake or annihilate his creature.'

'Then it cannot be conceived that a creature can make laws for its

'Depend upon it, said he, that if a man _talks_ of his misfortunes,
there is something in them that is not disagreeable to him; for where
there is nothing but pure misery, there never is any recourse to the
mention of it[109].'

'A man must be a poor beast that should _read_ no more in quantity than
he could _utter_ aloud.'

'Imlac in _Rasselas_, I spelt with a _c_ at the end, because it is less
like English, which should always have the Saxon _k_ added to the

'Many a man is mad in certain instances, and goes through life without
having it perceived[111]: for example, a madness has seized a person of
supposing himself obliged literally to pray continually[112]--had the
madness turned the opposite way and the person thought it a crime ever
to pray, it might not improbably have continued unobserved.'

'He apprehended that the delineation of _characters_ in the end of the
first Book of the _Retreat of the Ten Thousand_ was the first instance
of the kind that was known.'

'Supposing (said he) a wife to be of a studious or argumentative turn,
it would be very troublesome[113]: for instance,--if a woman should
continually dwell upon the subject of the Arian heresy.'

'No man speaks concerning another, even suppose it be in his praise, if
he thinks he does not hear him, exactly as he would, if he thought he
was within hearing.'

'The applause of a single human being is of great consequence[114]: This
he said to me with great earnestness of manner, very near the time of
his decease, on occasion of having desired me to read a letter addressed
to him from some person in the North of England; which when I had done,
and he asked me what the contents were, as I thought being particular
upon it might fatigue him, it being of great length, I only told him in
general that it was highly in his praise;--and then he expressed himself
as above.'

'He mentioned with an air of satisfaction what Baretti had told him;
that, meeting, in the course of his studying English, with an excellent
paper in the _Spectator_, one of four[115] that were written by the
respectable Dissenting Minister, Mr. Grove of Taunton, and observing the
genius and energy of mind that it exhibits, it greatly quickened his
curiosity to visit our country; as he thought if such were the lighter
periodical essays of our authours, their productions on more weighty
occasions must be wonderful indeed!'

'He observed once, at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, that a beggar in the street
will more readily ask alms from a _man_, though there should be no marks
of wealth in his appearance, than from even a well-dressed woman[116];
which he accounted for from the greater degree of carefulness as to
money that is to be found in women; saying farther upon it, that the
opportunities in general that they possess of improving their condition
are much fewer than men have; and adding, as he looked round the
company, which consisted of men only,--there is not one of us who does
not think he might be richer if he would use his endeavour.'

'He thus characterised an ingenious writer of his acquaintance: "Sir, he
is an enthusiast by rule[117]."'

'_He may hold up that SHIELD against all his enemies_;'--was an
observation on Homer, in reference to his description of the shield of
Achilles, made by Mrs. Fitzherbert, wife to his friend Mr. Fitzherbert
of Derbyshire, and respected by Dr. Johnson as a very fine one[118]. He
had in general a very high opinion of that lady's understanding.'

'An observation of Bathurst's may be mentioned, which Johnson repeated,
appearing to acknowledge it to be well founded, namely, it was somewhat
remarkable how seldom, on occasion of coming into the company of any new
person, one felt any wish or inclination to see him again[119].'

This year the Reverend Dr. Franklin[120] having published a translation
of _Lucian_, inscribed to him the _Demonax_ thus:--

'To DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON, the Demonax of the present age, this piece is
inscribed by a sincere admirer of his respectable[121] talents,


Though upon a particular comparison of Demonax and Johnson, there does
not seem to be a great deal of similarity between them, this Dedication
is a just compliment from the general character given by Lucian of the
ancient Sage, '[Greek: ariston on oida ego philosophon genomenon], the
best philosopher whom I have ever seen or known.'

1781: AETAT. 72.--In 1781 Johnson at last completed his _Lives of the
Poets_, of which he gives this account: 'Some time in March I finished
the _Lives of the Poets_, which I wrote in my usual way, dilatorily and
hastily, unwilling to work, and working with vigour and haste[122].' In
a memorandum previous to this, he says of them: 'Written, I hope, in
such a manner as may tend to the promotion of piety[123].'

This is the work which of all Dr. Johnson's writings will perhaps be
read most generally, and with most pleasure. Philology and
biography[124] were his favourite pursuits, and those who lived most in
intimacy with him, heard him upon all occasions, when there was a proper
opportunity, take delight in expatiating upon the various merits of the
English Poets: upon the niceties of their characters, and the events of
their progress through the world which they contributed to illuminate.
His mind was so full of that kind of information, and it was so well
arranged in his memory, that in performing what he had undertaken in
this way, he had little more to do than to put his thoughts upon paper,
exhibiting first each Poet's life, and then subjoining a critical
examination of his genius and works. But when he began to write, the
subject swelled in such a manner, that instead of prefaces to each poet,
of no more than a few pages, as he had originally intended[125], he
produced an ample, rich, and most entertaining view of them in every
respect. In this he resembled Quintilian, who tells us, that in the
composition of his _Institutions of Oratory[126], Latiùs se tamen
aperiente materiâ, plus quàm imponebatur oneris sponte suscepi._ The
booksellers, justly sensible of the great additional value of the
copy-right, presented him with another hundred pounds, over and above
two hundred, for which his agreement was to furnish such prefaces as he
thought fit[127].

This was, however, but a small recompense for such a collection of
biography, and such principles and illustrations of criticism, as, if
digested and arranged in one system, by some modern Aristotle or
Longinus, might form a code upon that subject, such as no other nation
can shew. As he was so good as to make me a present of the greatest part
of the original and indeed only[128] manuscript of this admirable work,
I have an opportunity of observing with wonder, the correctness with
which he rapidly struck off such glowing composition. He may be
assimilated to the Lady in Waller, who could impress with 'Love at
first sight:'

     'Some other nymphs with colours faint,
      And pencil slow may Cupid paint,
      And a weak heart in time destroy;
      She has a stamp, and prints the boy[129].'

That he, however, had a good deal of trouble, and some anxiety in
carrying on the work[130], we see from a series of letters to Mr.
Nichols the printer[131], whose variety of literary inquiry and
obliging disposition, rendered him useful to Johnson. Mr. Steevens
appears, from the papers in my possession, to have supplied him with
some anecdotes and quotations; and I observe the fair hand of Mrs.
Thrale as one of his copyists of select passages. But he was principally
indebted to my steady friend Mr. Isaac Reed, of Staple-inn, whose
extensive and accurate knowledge of English literary history I do not
express with exaggeration, when I say it is wonderful; indeed his
labours[132] have proved it to the world; and all who have the pleasure
of his acquaintance can bear testimony to the frankness of his
communications in private society.

It is not my intention to dwell upon each of Johnson's _Lives of the
Poets_, or attempt an analysis of their merits, which, were I able to
do it, would take up too much room in this work; yet I shall make a few
observations upon some of them, and insert a few various readings.

The Life of COWLEY he himself considered as the best of the whole, on
account of the dissertation which it contains on the _Metaphysical
Poets_. Dryden, whose critical abilities were equal to his poetical, had
mentioned them in his excellent Dedication of his Juvenal, but had
barely mentioned them[133]. Johnson has exhibited them at large, with
such happy illustration from their writings, and in so luminous a
manner, that indeed he may be allowed the full merit of novelty, and to
have discovered to us, as it were, a new planet in the poetical

It is remarked by Johnson, in considering the works of a poet[135], that
'amendments are seldom made without some token of a rent;' but I do not
find that this is applicable to prose[136]. We shall see that though his
amendments in this work are for the better, there is nothing of the
_pannus assutus_[137]; the texture is uniform: and indeed, what had been
there at first, is very seldom unfit to have remained.

_Various Readings[138] in the Life of COWLEY._

'All [future votaries of] _that may hereafter pant for_ solitude.

'To conceive and execute the [agitation or perception] _pains and the
pleasures_ of other minds.

'The wide effulgence of [the blazing] a _summer_ noon.'

In the Life of WALLER, Johnson gives a distinct and animated narrative
of publick affairs in that variegated period, with strong yet nice
touches of character; and having a fair opportunity to display his
political principles, does it with an unqualified manly confidence, and
satisfies his readers how nobly he might have executed a _Tory History_
of his country.

So easy is his style in these Lives, that I do not recollect more than
three uncommon or learned words[139]; one, when giving an account of the
approach of Waller's mortal disease, he says, 'he found his legs grow
_tumid_;' by using the expression his legs _swelled_, he would have
avoided this; and there would have been no impropriety in its being
followed by the interesting question to his physician, 'What that
_swelling_ meant?' Another, when he mentions that Pope had _emitted_
proposals; when _published_ or _issued_ would have been more readily
understood; and a third, when he calls Orrery and Dr. Delany[140],
writers both undoubtedly _veracious_[141], when _true, honest_, or
_faithful_, might have been used. Yet, it must be owned, that none of
these are _hard_ or _too big_ words; that custom would make them seem as
easy as any others; and that a language is richer and capable of more
beauty of expression, by having a greater variety of synonimes.

His dissertation[142] upon the unfitness of poetry for the aweful
subjects of our holy religion, though I do not entirely agree with with
him, has all the merit of originality, with uncommon force and

_Various Readings in the Life of_ WALLER.

'Consented to [the insertion of their names] _their own nomination_.

'[After] _paying_ a fine of ten thousand pounds.

'Congratulating Charles the Second on his [coronation] _recovered

'He that has flattery ready for all whom the vicissitudes of the world
happen to exalt, must be [confessed to degrade his powers] _scorned as a
prostituted mind_.

'The characters by which Waller intended to distinguish his writings are
[elegance] _sprightliness_ and dignity.

'Blossoms to be valued only as they [fetch] _foretell_ fruits.

'Images such as the superficies of nature [easily] _readily_ supplies.

'[His] Some applications [are sometimes] _may be thought_ too remote and

'His images are [sometimes confused] _not always distinct_?

Against his Life of MILTON, the hounds of Whiggism have opened in full
cry[143]. But of Milton's great excellence as a poet, where shall we
find such a blazon as by the hand of Johnson? I shall select only the
following passage concerning _Paradise Lost_[144]:

'Fancy can hardly forbear to conjecture with what temper Milton surveyed
the silent progress of his work, and marked his reputation stealing its
way in a kind of subterraneous current, through fear and silence. I
cannot but conceive him calm and confident, little disappointed, not at
all dejected, relying on his own merit with steady consciousness, and
waiting without impatience the vicissitudes of opinion, and the
impartiality of a future generation[145].'

Indeed even Dr. Towers, who may be considered as one of the warmest
zealots of _The Revolution Society_[146] itself, allows, that 'Johnson
has spoken in the highest terms of the abilities of that great poet, and
has bestowed on his principal poetical compositions the most honourable

That a man, who venerated the Church and Monarchy as Johnson did, should
speak with a just abhorrence of Milton as a politician, or rather as a
daring foe to good polity, was surely to be expected; and to those who
censure him, I would recommend his commentary on Milton's celebrated
complaint of his situation, when by the lenity of Charles the Second, 'a
lenity of which (as Johnson well observes) the world has had perhaps no
other example, he, who had written in justification of the murder of his
Sovereign, was safe under an Act of Oblivion[148].'

'No sooner is he safe than he finds himself in danger, _fallen on evil
days and evil tongues_, [and] _with darkness and with danger compassed
round_[149]. This darkness, had his eyes been better employed, had
undoubtedly deserved compassion; but to add the mention of danger, was
ungrateful and unjust. He was fallen, indeed, on _evil days_; the time
was come in which regicides could no longer boast their wickedness. But
of _evil tongues_ for Milton to complain, required impudence at least
equal to his other powers; Milton, whose warmest advocates must allow,
that he never spared any asperity of reproach, or brutality of

I have, indeed, often wondered how Milton, 'an acrimonious and surly
Republican[151],'--'a man who in his domestick relations was so severe
and arbitrary[152],' and whose head was filled with the hardest and most
dismal tenets of Calvinism[153], should have been such a poet; should
not only have written with sublimity, but with beauty, and even gaiety;
should have exquisitely painted the sweetest sensations of which our
nature is capable; imaged the delicate raptures of connubial love; nay,
seemed to be animated with all the spirit of revelry. It is a proof that
in the human mind the departments of judgement and imagination,
perception and temper, may sometimes be divided by strong partitions;
and that the light and shade in the same character may be kept so
distinct as never to be blended[154].

In the Life of Milton, Johnson took occasion to maintain his own and the
general opinion of the excellence of rhyme over blank verse, in English
poetry[155]; and quotes this apposite illustration of it by 'an
ingenious critick,' that _it seems to be verse only to the eye_[156].
The gentleman whom he thus characterises, is (as he told Mr. Seward) Mr.
Lock[157], of Norbury Park, in Surrey, whose knowledge and taste in the
fine arts is universally celebrated; with whose elegance of manners the
writer of the present work has felt himself much impressed, and to whose
virtues a common friend, who has known him long, and is not much
addicted to flattery, gives the highest testimony.

_Various Readings in the Life of_ MILTON.

'I cannot find any meaning but this which [his most bigotted advocates]
_even kindness and reverence_ can give.

'[Perhaps no] _scarcely any_ man ever wrote so much, and praised so few.

'A certain [rescue] _perservative_ from oblivion.

'Let me not be censured for this digression, as [contracted] _pedantick_
or paradoxical.

'Socrates rather was of opinion, that what we had to learn was how to
[obtain and communicate happiness] _do good and avoid evil_.

'Its elegance [who can exhibit?] _is less attainable._'

I could, with pleasure, expatiate upon the masterly execution of the
Life of DRYDEN, which we have seen[158] was one of Johnson's literary
projects at an early period, and which it is remarkable, that after
desisting from it, from a supposed scantiness of materials, he should,
at an advanced age, have exhibited so amply.

His defence[159] of that great poet against the illiberal attacks upon
him, as if his embracing the Roman Catholick communion had been a
time-serving measure, is a piece of reasoning at once able and candid.
Indeed, Dryden himself, in his _Hind and Panther_, has given such a
picture of his mind, that they who know the anxiety for repose as to the
aweful subject of our state beyond the grave, though they may think his
opinion ill-founded, must think charitably of his sentiment:--

     'But, gracious GOD, how well dost thou provide
      For erring judgements an unerring guide!
      Thy throne is darkness in the abyss of light,
      A blaze of glory that forbids the sight.
      O! teach me to believe thee thus conceal'd,
      And search no farther than thyself reveal'd;
      But Her alone for my director take,
      Whom thou hast promis'd never to forsake.
      My thoughtless youth was wing'd with vain desires;
      My manhood long misled by wand'ring fires,
      Follow'd false lights; and when their glimpse was gone,
      My pride struck out new sparkles of her own.
      Such was I, such by Nature still I am;
      Be thine the glory, and be mine the shame.
      Good life be now my task: my doubts are done;
      What more could shock[160] my faith than Three in One?'

In drawing Dryden's character, Johnson has given, though I suppose
unintentionally, some touches of his own. Thus:--'The power that
predominated in his intellectual operations was rather strong reason
than quick sensibility. Upon all occasions that were presented, he
studied rather than felt; and produced sentiments not such as Nature
enforces, but meditation supplies. With the simple and elemental
passions as they spring separate in the mind, he seems not much
acquainted. He is, therefore, with all his variety of excellence, not
often pathetick; and had so little sensibility of the power of effusions
purely natural, that he did not esteem them in others[161].' It may
indeed be observed, that in all the numerous writings of Johnson,
whether in prose or verse, and even in his Tragedy, of which the subject
is the distress of an unfortunate Princess, there is not a single
passage that ever drew a tear[162].

_Various Readings in the Life of_ DRYDEN.

'The reason of this general perusal, Addison has attempted to [find in]
_derive from_ the delight which the mind feels in the investigation
of secrets.

'His best actions are but [convenient] _inability of_ wickedness.

'When once he had engaged himself in disputation, [matter] _thoughts_
flowed in on either side.

'The abyss of an un-ideal [emptiness] _vacancy_.

'These, like [many other harlots,] _the harlots of other men_, had his
love though not his approbation.

'He [sometimes displays] _descends to display_ his knowledge with
pedantick ostentation.

'French words which [were then used in] _had then crept into_

The Life of POPE[163] was written by Johnson _con amore_, both from the
early possession which that writer had taken of his mind, and from the
pleasure which he must have felt, in for ever silencing all attempts to
lessen his poetical fame, by demonstrating his excellence, and
pronouncing the following triumphant eulogium[164]:--'After all this, it
is surely superfluous to answer the question that has once been asked,
Whether Pope was a poet? otherwise than by asking in return, If Pope be
not a poet, where is poetry to be found? To circumscribe poetry by a
definition, will only shew the narrowness of the definer; though a
definition which shall exclude Pope will not easily be made. Let us look
round upon the present time, and back upon the past; let us enquire to
whom the voice of mankind has decreed the wreath of poetry; let their
productions be examined, and their claims stated, and the pretensions of
Pope will be no more disputed.'

I remember once to have heard Johnson say, 'Sir, a thousand years may
elapse before there shall appear another man with a power of
versification equal to that of Pope.' That power must undoubtedly be
allowed its due share in enhancing the value of his captivating

Johnson, who had done liberal justice to Warburton in his edition of
_Shakspeare_[165], which was published during the life of that powerful
writer, with still greater liberality[166] took an opportunity, in the
Life of Pope, of paying the tribute due to him when he was no longer in
'high place,' but numbered with the dead[167].

It seems strange, that two such men as Johnson and Warburton, who lived
in the same age and country, should not only not have been in any degree
of intimacy, but been almost personally unacquainted. But such
instances, though we must wonder at them, are not rare. If I am rightly
informed, after a careful enquiry, they never met but once, which was at
the house of Mrs. French, in London, well known for her elegant
assemblies, and bringing eminent characters together. The interview
proved to be mutually agreeable[168].

I am well informed, that Warburton said of Johnson, 'I admire him, but I
cannot bear his style:' and that Johnson being told of this, said, 'That
is exactly my case as to him[169].' The manner in which he expressed his
admiration of the fertility of Warburton's genius and of the variety of
his materials was, 'The table is always full, Sir. He brings things from
the north, and the south, and from every quarter. In his _Divine
Legation_, you are always entertained. He carries you round and round,
without carrying you forward to the point; but then you have no wish to
be carried forward.' He said to the Reverend Mr. Strahan, 'Warburton is
perhaps the last man who has written with a mind full of reading and

It is remarkable, that in the Life of Broome[171], Johnson takes notice
of Dr. Warburton using a mode of expression which he himself used, and
that not seldom, to the great offence of those who did not know him.
Having occasion to mention a note, stating the different parts which
were executed by the associated translators of _The Odyssey_, he says,
'Dr. Warburton told me, in his warm language, that he thought the
relation given in the note _a lie_. The language is _warm_ indeed; and,
I must own, cannot be justified in consistency with a decent regard to
the established forms of speech. Johnson had accustomed himself to use
the word _lie_[172], to express a mistake or an errour in relation; in
short, when the _thing was not so as told_, though the relator did not
_mean_ to deceive. When he thought there was intentional falsehood in
the relator, his expression was, 'He _lies_, and he _knows_ he _lies_.'

Speaking of Pope's not having been known to excel in conversation,
Johnson observes, that 'traditional memory retains no sallies of
raillery, or[173] sentences of observation; nothing either pointed or
solid, wise or merry[174]; and that one apophthegm only is
recorded[175].' In this respect, Pope differed widely from Johnson,
whose conversation was, perhaps, more admirable than even his writings,
however excellent. Mr. Wilkes has, however, favoured me with one
repartee of Pope, of which Johnson was not informed. Johnson, after
justly censuring him for having 'nursed in his mind a foolish dis-esteem
of Kings,' tells us, 'yet a little regard shewn him by the Prince of
Wales melted his obduracy; and he had not much to say when he was asked
by his Royal Highness, _how he could love a Prince, while he disliked
Kings_[176]?' The answer which Pope made, was, 'The young lion is
harmless, and even playful; but when his claws are full grown he becomes
cruel, dreadful, and mischievous.'

But although we have no collection of Pope's sayings, it is not
therefore to be concluded, that he was not agreeable in social
intercourse; for Johnson has been heard to say, that 'the happiest
conversation is that of which nothing is distinctly remembered but a
general effect of pleasing impression.' The late Lord Somerville[177],
who saw much both of great and brilliant life, told me, that he had
dined in company with Pope, and that after dinner the _little man_, as
he called him, drank his bottle of Burgundy, and was exceedingly gay and

I cannot withhold from my great friend a censure of at least culpable
inattention, to a nobleman, who, it has been shewn[178], behaved to him
with uncommon politeness. He says, 'Except Lord Bathurst, none of Pope's
noble friends were such as that a good man would wish to have his
intimacy with them known to posterity[179].' This will not apply to Lord
Mansfield, who was not ennobled in Pope's life-time; but Johnson should
have recollected, that Lord Marchmont was one of those noble friends. He
includes his Lordship along with Lord Bolingbroke, in a charge of
neglect of the papers which Pope left by his will; when, in truth, as I
myself pointed out to him, before he wrote that poet's life, the papers
were 'committed to _the sole care and judgement_ of Lord Bolingbroke,
unless he (Lord Bolingbroke) shall not survive me;' so that Lord
Marchmont had no concern whatever with them[180]. After the first
edition of the _Lives_, Mr. Malone, whose love of justice is equal to
his accuracy, made, in my hearing, the same remark to Johnson; yet he
omitted to correct the erroneous statement[181]. These particulars I
mention, in the belief that there was only forgetfulness in my friend;
but I owe this much to the Earl of Marchmont's reputation, who, were
there no other memorials, will be immortalised by that line of Pope, in
the verses on his Grotto:

     'And the bright flame was shot through Marchmont's soul.'

_Various Readings in the Life of POPE._

'[Somewhat free] _sufficiently bold_ in his criticism.

'All the gay [niceties] _varieties_ of diction.

'Strikes the imagination with far [more] _greater_ force.

'It is [probably] _certainly_ the noblest version of poetry which the
world has ever seen.

'Every sheet enabled him to write the next with [less trouble] _more

'No man sympathizes with [vanity, depressed] _the sorrows of vanity_.

'It had been [criminal] _less easily excused_.

'When he [threatened to lay down] _talked of laying down_ his pen.

'Society [is so named emphatically in opposition to] _politically
regulated, is a state contra-distinguished from_ a state of nature.

'A fictitious life of an [absurd] _infatuated_ scholar.

'A foolish [contempt, disregard,] _disesteem_ of Kings.

'His hopes and fears, his joys and sorrows [were like those of other
mortals] _acted strongly upon his mind_.

'Eager to pursue knowledge and attentive to [accumulate] _retain it_.

'A mind [excursive] _active_, ambitious, and adventurous.

'In its [noblest] _widest_ researches still longing to go forward.

'He wrote in such a manner as might expose him to few [neglects]

'The [reasonableness] _justice_ of my determination.

'A [favourite] _delicious_ employment of the poets.

'More terrifick and more powerful [beings] _phantoms_ perform on the
stormy ocean.

'The inventor of [those] _this_ petty [beings] _nation_.

'The [mind] _heart_ naturally loves truth.'

In the Life of ADDISON we find an unpleasing account of his having lent
Steele a hundred pounds, and 'reclaimed his loan by an execution[182].'
In the new edition of the _Biographia Britannica_, the authenticity of
this anecdote is denied. But Mr. Malone has obliged me with the
following note concerning it:--

'Many persons having doubts concerning this fact, I applied to Dr.
Johnson to learn on what authority he asserted it. He told me, he had it
from Savage, who lived in intimacy with Steele, and who mentioned, that
Steele told him the story with tears in his eyes.--Ben Victor[183], Dr.
Johnson said, likewise informed him of this remarkable transaction, from
the relation of Mr. Wilkes[184] the comedian, who was also an intimate
of Steele's.--Some in defence of Addison, have said, that "the act was
done with the good natured view of rousing Steele, and correcting that
profusion which always made him necessitous."--"If that were the case,
(said Johnson,) and that he only wanted to alarm Steele, he would
afterwards have _returned_ the money to his friend, which it is not
pretended he did."--"This too, (he added,) might be retorted by an
advocate for Steele, who might alledge, that he did not repay the loan
_intentionally_, merely to see whether Addison would be mean and
ungenerous enough to make use of legal process to recover it. But of
such speculations there is no end: we cannot dive into the hearts of
men; but their actions are open to observation[185]."

'I then mentioned to him that some people thought that Mr. Addison's
character was so pure, that the fact, _though true_, ought to have been
suppressed[186]. He saw no reason for this[187]. "If nothing but the
bright side of characters should be shewn, we should sit down in
despondency, and think it utterly impossible to imitate them in _any
thing_. The sacred writers (he observed) related the vicious as well as
the virtuous actions of men; which had this moral effect, that it kept
mankind from _despair_, into which otherwise they would naturally fall,
were they not supported by the recollection that others had offended
like themselves, and by penitence and amendment of life had been
restored to the favour of Heaven."


'March 15, 1782.'

The last paragraph of this note is of great importance; and I request
that my readers may consider it with particular attention. It will be
afterwards referred to in this work[188].

_Various Readings in the Life of_ ADDISON.

'[But he was our first great example] _He was, however, one of our
earliest examples_ of correctness.

And [overlook] _despise_ their masters.

His instructions were such as the [state] _character_ of his [own time]
_readers_ made [necessary] _proper_.

His purpose was to [diffuse] _infuse_ literary curiosity by gentle and
unsuspected conveyance [among] _into_ the gay, the idle, and
the wealthy.

Framed rather for those that [wish] _are learning_ to write.

Domestick [manners] _scenes_.'

In his Life of PARNELL, I wonder that Johnson omitted to insert an
Epitaph which he had long before composed for that amiable man, without
ever writing it down, but which he was so good as, at my request, to
dictate to me, by which means it has been preserved.

     '_Hic requiescit_ THOMAS PARNELL, _S.T.P.
        Qui sacerdos pariter et poeta,
        Utrasque partes ita implevit,
        Ut neque sacerdoti suavitas poetae,
        Neo poetae sacerdotis sanctitas_[189], _deesset_.'

     _Various Readings in the Life of_ PARNELL.

'About three years [after] _afterwards_.

[Did not much want] _was in no great need of_ improvement.

But his prosperity _did not last long_ [was clouded by that which took
away all his powers of enjoying either profit or pleasure, the death of
his wife, whom he is said to have lamented with such sorrow, as hastened
his end[190].] His end, whatever was the cause, was now approaching.

In the Hermit, the [composition] _narrative_, as it is less airy, is
less pleasing.'

In the Life of BLACKMORE, we find that writer's reputation generously
cleared by Johnson from the cloud of prejudice which the malignity of
contemporary wits had raised around it[191]. In this spirited exertion
of justice, he has been imitated by Sir Joshua Reynolds, in his praise
of the architecture of Vanburgh[192].

We trace Johnson's own character in his observations on Blackmore's
'magnanimity as an authour.' 'The incessant attacks of his enemies,
whether serious or merry, are never discovered to have disturbed his
quiet, or to have lessened his confidence in himself.' Johnson, I
recollect, once told me, laughing heartily, that he understood it had
been said of him, 'He _appears_ not to feel; but when he is _alone_,
depend upon it, he _suffers sadly_.' I am as certain as I can be of any
man's real sentiments, that he _enjoyed_ the perpetual shower of little
hostile arrows as evidences of his fame.

_Various Readings in the Life of_ BLACKMORE.

To [set] _engage_ poetry [on the side] _in the cause_ of virtue.

He likewise [established] _enforced_ the truth of Revelation.

[Kindness] _benevolence_ was ashamed to favour.

His practice, which was once [very extensive] _invidiously great_.
There is scarcely any distemper of dreadful name [of] which he has not
[shewn] _taught his reader_ how [it is to be opposed] _to oppose_.

Of this [contemptuous] _indecent_ arrogance.

[He wrote] _but produced_ likewise a work of a different kind.

At least [written] _compiled_ with integrity.

Faults which many tongues [were desirous] _would have made haste_ to

But though he [had not] _could not boast of_ much critical knowledge.

He [used] _waited for_ no felicities of fancy.

Or had ever elevated his [mind] _views_ to that ideal perfection which
every [mind] _genius_ born to excel is condemned always to pursue and
never overtake.

The [first great] _fundamental_ principle of wisdom and of virtue.'

_Various Readings in the Life of_ PHILIPS.

'His dreaded [rival] _antagonist_ Pope.

They [have not often much] _are not loaded with_ thought.

In his translations from Pindar, he [will not be denied to have reached]
_found the art of reaching_ all the obscurity of the Theban bard.'

_Various Readings in the Life of_ CONGREVE.

'Congreve's conversation must surely have been _at least_ equally
pleasing with his writings.

It apparently [requires] _pre-supposes_ a familiar knowledge of many

Reciprocation of [similes] _conceits_.

The dialogue is quick and [various] _sparkling_.

Love for Love; a comedy [more drawn from life] _of nearer alliance to

The general character of his miscellanies is, that they shew little wit
and [no] _little_ virtue.

[Perhaps] _certainly_ he had not the fire requisite for the higher
species of lyrick poetry.'

_Various Readings in the Life of_ TICKELL.

'[Longed] _long wished_ to peruse it.

At the [accession] _arrival_ of King George.

Fiction [unnaturally] _unskilfully_ compounded of Grecian deities and
Gothick fairies.'

_Various Readings in the Life of_ AKENSIDE.

'For [another] _a different_ purpose.

[A furious] _an unnecessary_ and outrageous zeal.

[Something which] _what_ he called and thought liberty.

A [favourer of innovation] _lover of contradiction_.

Warburton's [censure] _objections_.

His rage [for liberty] _of patriotism_.

Mr. Dyson with [a zeal] _an ardour_ of friendship.'

In the Life of LYTTELTON, Johnson seems to have been not favourably
disposed towards that nobleman[193]. Mrs. Thrale suggests that he was
offended by _Molly Aston's_[194] preference of his Lordship to him[195].
I can by no means join in the censure bestowed by Johnson on his
Lordship, whom he calls 'poor Lyttelton,' for returning thanks to the
Critical Reviewers for having 'kindly commended' his _Dialogues of the
Dead_. Such 'acknowledgements (says my friend) never can be proper,
since they must be paid either for flattery or for justice.' In my
opinion, the most upright man, who has been tried on a false accusation,
may, when he is acquitted, make a bow to his jury. And when those who
are so much the arbiters of literary merit, as in a considerable degree
to influence the publick opinion, review an authour's work, _placido
lumine_[196], when I am afraid mankind in general are better pleased
with severity, he may surely express a grateful sense of their

_Various Readings in the Life of_ LYTTELTON.

'He solaced [himself] _his grief_ by writing a long poem to her memory.

The production rather [of a mind that means well than thinks vigorously]
_as it seems of leisure than of study, rather effusions than

His last literary [work] _production_.

[Found the way] _undertook_ to persuade.'

As the introduction to his critical examination of the genius and
writings of YOUNG, he did Mr. Herbert Croft[198], then a Barrister of
Lincoln's-inn, now a clergyman, the honour to adopt[199] a _Life of
Young_ written by that gentleman, who was the friend of Dr. Young's son,
and wished to vindicate him from some very erroneous remarks to his
prejudice. Mr. Croft's performance was subjected to the revision of Dr.
Johnson, as appears from the following note to Mr. John Nichols[200]:--

'This _Life of Dr. Young_ was written by a friend of his son. What is
crossed with black is expunged by the authour, what is crossed with red
is expunged by me. If you find any thing more that can be well omitted,
I shall not be sorry to see it yet shorter[201]'

It has always appeared to me to have a considerable share of merit, and
to display a pretty successful imitation of Johnson's style. When I
mentioned this to a very eminent literary character[202], he opposed me
vehemently, exclaiming, 'No, no, it is _not_ a good imitation of
Johnson; it has all his pomp without his force; it has all the
nodosities of the oak without its strength.' This was an image so happy,
that one might have thought he would have been satisfied with it; but he
was not. And setting his mind again to work, he added, with exquisite
felicity, 'It has all the contortions of the Sybil, without the

Mr. Croft very properly guards us against supposing that Young was a
gloomy man[203]; and mentions, that 'his parish was indebted to the
good-humour of the authour of the _Night Thoughts_ for an Assembly and a
Bowling-Green[204].' A letter from a noble foreigner is quoted, in which
he is said to have been 'very pleasant in conversation[205].'

Mr. Langton, who frequently visited him, informs me, that there was an
air of benevolence in his manner, but that he could obtain from him less
information than he had hoped to receive from one who had lived so much
in intercourse with the brightest men of what has been called the
Augustan age of England; and that he shewed a degree of eager curiosity
concerning the common occurrences that were then passing, which appeared
somewhat remarkable in a man of such intellectual stores, of such an
advanced age, and who had retired from life with declared disappointment
in his expectations.

An instance at once of his pensive turn of mind, and his cheerfulness of
temper, appeared in a little story which he himself told to Mr. Langton,
when they were walking in his garden: 'Here (said he) I had put a
handsome sun-dial, with this inscription, _Eheu fugaces!_[206] which
(speaking with a smile) was sadly verified, for by the next morning my
dial had been carried off.'[207]

'It gives me much pleasure to observe, that however Johnson may have
casually talked,[208] yet when he sits, as "an ardent judge zealous to
his trust, giving sentence" [209] upon the excellent works of Young, he
allows them the high praise to which they are justly entitled.
"The _Universal Passion_ (says he) is indeed a very great
performance,--his distichs have the weight of solid sentiment, and his
points the sharpness of resistless truth."'[210]

But I was most anxious concerning Johnson's decision upon _Night
Thoughts_, which I esteem as a mass of the grandest and richest poetry
that human genius has ever produced; and was delighted to find this
character of that work: 'In his _Night Thoughts_, he has exhibited a
very wide display of original poetry, variegated with deep reflections
and striking allusions; a wilderness of thought, in which the fertility
of fancy scatters flowers of every hue and of every odour. This is one
of the few poems in which blank verse could not be changed for rhime but
with disadvantage.'[211] And afterwards, 'Particular lines are not to be
regarded; the power is in the whole; and in the whole there is a
magnificence like that ascribed to Chinese plantation[212], the
magnificence of vast extent and endless diversity.'

But there is in this Poem not only all that Johnson so well brings in
view, but a power of the _Pathetick_ beyond almost any example that I
have seen. He who does not feel his nerves shaken, and his heart pierced
by many passages in this extraordinary work, particularly by that most
affecting one, which describes the gradual torment suffered by the
contemplation of an object of affectionate attachment, visibly and
certainly decaying into dissolution, must be of a hard and obstinate

To all the other excellencies of _Night Thoughts_ let me add the great
and peculiar one, that they contain not only the noblest sentiments of
virtue, and contemplations on immortality, but the _Christian
Sacrifice_, the _Divine Propitiation_, with all its interesting
circumstances, and consolations to 'a wounded spirit[214],' solemnly and
poetically displayed in such imagery and language, as cannot fail to
exalt, animate, and soothe the truly pious. No book whatever can be
recommended to young persons, with better hopes of seasoning their minds
with _vital religion_, than YOUNG'S _Night Thoughts_.

In the Life of SWIFT, it appears to me that Johnson had a certain degree
of prejudice against that extraordinary man, of which I have elsewhere
had occasion to speak[215]. Mr. Thomas Sheridan imputed it to a supposed
apprehension in Johnson, that Swift had not been sufficiently active in
obtaining for him an Irish degree when it was solicited[216], but of
this there was not sufficient evidence; and let me not presume to charge
Johnson with injustice, because he did not think so highly of the
writings of this authour, as I have done from my youth upwards. Yet that
he had an unfavourable bias is evident, were it only from that passage
in which he speaks of Swift's practice of saving, as, 'first ridiculous
and at last detestable;' and yet after some examination of
circumstances, finds himself obliged to own, that 'it will perhaps
appear that he only liked one mode of expence better than another, and
saved merely that he might have something to give[217].'

One observation which Johnson makes in Swift's life should be often

'It may be justly supposed, that there was in his conversation what
appears so frequently in his letters, an affectation of familiarity with
the great, an ambition of momentary equality, sought and enjoyed by the
neglect of those ceremonies which custom has established as the barriers
between one order of society and another. This transgression of
regularity was by himself and his admirers termed greatness of soul; but
a great mind disdains to hold any thing by courtesy, and therefore never
usurps what a lawful claimant may take away. He that encroaches on
another's dignity puts himself in his power; he is either repelled with
helpless indignity, or endured by clemency and condescension[218].'

_Various Readings in the Life of Swift_.

'Charity may be persuaded to think that it might be written by a man of
_a_ peculiar [opinions] _character_, without ill intention.

He did not [disown] _deny_ it.

'[To] _by_ whose kindness it is not unlikely that he was [indebted for]
_advanced to_ his benefices.

[With] _for_ this purpose he had recourse to Mr. Harley.

Sharpe, whom he [represents] _describes_ as "the harmless tool of
others' hate."

Harley was slow because he was [irresolute] _doubtful_.

When [readers were not many] _we were not yet a nation of readers_.

[Every man who] _he that could say he_ knew him.

Every man of known influence has so many [more] petitions [than] _which_
he [can] _cannot_ grant, that he must necessarily offend more than he
[can gratify] _gratifies_.

Ecclesiastical [preferments] _benefices_.

'Swift [procured] _contrived_ an interview.

[As a writer] _In his works_ he has given very different specimens.

On all common occasions he habitually [assumes] _affects_ a style of
[superiority] _arrogance_.

By the [omission] _neglect_ of those ceremonies.

That their merits filled the world [and] _or that_ there was no [room
for] _hope of_ more.'

I have not confined myself to the order of the _Lives_, in making my few
remarks. Indeed a different order is observed in the original
publication, and in the collection of Johnson's _Works_. And should it
be objected, that many of my various readings are inconsiderable, those
who make the objection will be pleased to consider, that such small
particulars are intended for those who are nicely critical in
composition, to whom they will be an acceptable selection[219].

_Spence's Anecdotes_, which are frequently quoted and referred to in
Johnson's _Lives of the Poets_, are in a manuscript collection, made by
the Reverend Mr. Joseph Spence[220], containing a number of particulars
concerning eminent men. To each anecdote is marked the name of the
person on whose authority it is mentioned. This valuable collection is
the property of the Duke of Newcastle, who upon the application of Sir
Lucas Pepys, was pleased to permit it to be put into the hands of Dr.
Johnson, who I am sorry to think made but an aukward return. 'Great
assistance (says he) has been given me by Mr. Spence's Collection, of
which I consider the communication as a favour worthy of publick
acknowledgement[221];' but he has not owned to whom he was obliged; so
that the acknowledgement is unappropriated to his Grace.

While the world in general was filled with admiration of Johnson's
_Lives of the Poets_, there were narrow circles in which prejudice and
resentment were fostered, and from which attacks of different sorts
issued against him[222]. By some violent Whigs he was arraigned of
injustice to Milton; by some Cambridge men of depreciating Gray; and his
expressing with a dignified freedom what he really thought of George,
Lord Lyttelton, gave offence to some of the friends of that nobleman,
and particularly produced a declaration of war against him from Mrs.
Montagu, the ingenious Essayist on Shakspeare, between whom and his
Lordship a commerce of reciprocal compliments had long been carried
on[223]. In this war the smaller powers in alliance with him were of
course led to engage, at least on the defensive, and thus I for one was
excluded from the enjoyment of 'A Feast of Reason,' such as Mr.
Cumberland has described, with a keen, yet just and delicate pen, in his
_Observer_[224]. These minute inconveniencies gave not the least
disturbance to Johnson. He nobly said, when I talked to him of the
feeble, though shrill outcry which had been raised, 'Sir, I considered
myself as entrusted with a certain portion of truth. I have given my
opinion sincerely; let them shew where they think me wrong[225].'

While my friend is thus contemplated in the splendour derived from his
last and perhaps most admirable work, I introduce him with peculiar
propriety as the correspondent of WARREN HASTINGS! a man whose regard
reflects dignity even upon JOHNSON; a man, the extent of whose abilities
was equal to that of his power; and who, by those who are fortunate
enough to know him in private life, is admired for his literature and
taste, and beloved for the candour, moderation, and mildness of his
character. Were I capable of paying a suitable tribute of admiration to
him, I should certainly not withhold it at a moment[226] when it is not
possible that I should be suspected of being an interested flatterer.
But how weak would be my voice after that of the millions whom he
governed. His condescending and obliging compliance with my
solicitation, I with humble gratitude acknowledge; and while by
publishing his letter to me, accompanying the valuable communication, I
do eminent honour to my great friend, I shall entirely disregard any
invidious suggestions, that as I in some degree participate in the
honour, I have, at the same time, the gratification of my own vanity
in view.

'TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ. Park Lane, Dec. 2, 1790.


I have been fortunately spared the troublesome suspense of a long
search, to which, in performance of my promise, I had devoted this
morning, by lighting upon the objects of it among the first papers that
I laid my hands on: my veneration for your great and good friend, Dr.
Johnson, and the pride, or I hope something of a better sentiment, which
I indulged in possessing such memorials of his good will towards me,
having induced me to bind them in a parcel containing other select
papers, and labelled with the titles appertaining to them. They consist
but of three letters, which I believe were all that I ever received from
Dr. Johnson. Of these, one, which was written in quadruplicate, under
the different dates of its respective dispatches, has already been made
publick[227], but not from any communication of mine. This, however, I
have joined to the rest; and have now the pleasure of sending them to
you for the use to which you informed me it was your desire to
destine them.

'My promise was pledged with the condition, that if the letters were
found to contain any thing which should render them improper for the
publick eye, you would dispense with the performance of it. You will
have the goodness, I am sure, to pardon my recalling this stipulation to
your recollection, as I should be both to appear negligent of that
obligation which is always implied in an epistolary confidence. In the
reservation of that right I have read them over with the most scrupulous
attention, but have not seen in them the slightest cause on that ground
to withhold them from you. But, though not on that, yet on another
ground I own I feel a little, yet but a little, reluctance to part with
them: I mean on that of my own credit, which I fear will suffer by the
information conveyed by them, that I was early in the possession of such
valuable instructions for the beneficial employment of the influence of
my late station, and (as it may seem) have so little availed myself of
them. Whether I could, if it were necessary, defend myself against such
an imputation, it little concerns the world to know. I look only to the
effect which these relicks may produce, considered as evidences of the
virtues of their authour: and believing that they will be found to
display an uncommon warmth of private friendship, and a mind ever
attentive to the improvement and extension of useful knowledge, and
solicitous for the interests of mankind, I can cheerfully submit to the
little sacrifice of my own fame, to contribute to the illustration of so
great and venerable a character. They cannot be better applied, for that
end, than by being entrusted to your hands. Allow me, with this
offering, to infer from it a proof of the very great esteem with which I
have the honour to profess myself, Sir,

     Your most obedient
          And most humble servant,
              'WARREN HASTINGS.'

'_P.S_. At some future time, and when you have no further occasion for
these papers, I shall be obliged to you if you would return them.'

The last of the three letters thus graciously put into my hands, and
which has already appeared in publick, belongs to this year; but I shall
previously insert the first two in the order of their dates. They
altogether form a grand group in my biographical picture.



Though I have had but little personal knowledge of you, I have had
enough to make me wish for more; and though it be now a long time since
I was honoured by your visit, I had too much pleasure from it to forget
it. By those whom we delight to remember, we are unwilling to be
forgotten; and therefore I cannot omit this opportunity of reviving
myself in your memory by a letter which you will receive from the hands
of my friend Mr. Chambers[228]; a man, whose purity of manners and
vigour of mind are sufficient to make every thing welcome that
he brings.

That this is my only reason for writing, will be too apparent by the
uselessness of my letter to any other purpose. I have no questions to
ask; not that I want curiosity after either the ancient or present state
of regions in which have been seen all the power and splendour of
wide-extended empire; and which, as by some grant of natural
superiority, supply the rest of the world with almost all that pride
desires and luxury enjoys. But my knowledge of them is too scanty to
furnish me with proper topicks of enquiry; I can only wish for
information; and hope, that a mind comprehensive like yours will find
leisure, amidst the cares of your important station, to enquire into
many subjects of which the European world either thinks not at all, or
thinks with deficient intelligence and uncertain conjecture. I shall
hope, that he who once intended to increase the learning of his country
by the introduction of the Persian language[229], will examine nicely
the traditions and histories of the East; that he will survey the
wonders of its ancient edifices, and trace the vestiges of its ruined
cities; and that, at his return, we shall know the arts and opinions of
a race of men, from whom very little has been hitherto derived.

You, Sir, have no need of being told by me, how much may be added by
your attention and patronage to experimental knowledge and natural
history. There are arts of manufacture practised in the countries in
which you preside, which are yet very imperfectly known here, either to
artificers or philosophers. Of the natural productions, animate and
inanimate, we yet have so little intelligence, that our books are
filled, I fear, with conjectures about things which an Indian peasant
knows by his senses.

Many of those things my first wish is to see; my second to know, by such
accounts as a man like you will be able to give.

As I have not skill to ask proper questions, I have likewise no such
access to great men as can enable me to send you any political
information. Of the agitations of an unsettled government, and the
struggles of a feeble ministry[230], care is doubtless taken to give you
more exact accounts than I can obtain. If you are inclined to interest
yourself much in publick transactions, it is no misfortune to you to be
so distant from them.

That literature is not totally forsaking us, and that your favourite
language is not neglected, will appear from the book[231], which I
should have pleased myself more with sending, if I could have presented
it bound: but time was wanting. I beg, however, Sir, that you will
accept it from a man very desirous of your regard; and that if you think
me able to gratify you by any thing more important you will employ me.

I am now going to take leave, perhaps a very long leave, of my dear Mr.
Chambers. That he is going to live where you govern, may justly
alleviate the regret of parting; and the hope of seeing both him and you
again, which I am not willing to mingle with doubt, must at present
comfort as it can, Sir, Your most humble servant,

March 30, 1774.'


Being informed that by the departure of a ship, there is now an
opportunity of writing to Bengal, I am unwilling to slip out of your
memory by my own negligence, and therefore take the liberty of reminding
you of my existence, by sending you a book which is not yet
made publick.

I have lately visited a region less remote, and less illustrious than
India, which afforded some occasions for speculation; what has occurred
to me, I have put into the volume[232], of which I beg your acceptance.

Men in your station seldom have presents totally disinterested; my book
is received, let me now make my request.

There is, Sir, somewhere within your government, a young adventurer, one
Chauncey Lawrence, whose father is one of my oldest friends. Be pleased
to shew the young man what countenance is fit, whether he wants to be
restrained by your authority, or encouraged by your favour. His father
is now President of the College of Physicians, a man venerable for his
knowledge, and more venerable for his virtue[233].

I wish you a prosperous government, a safe return, and a long enjoyment
of plenty and tranquillity.

     I am, Sir,
        Your most obedient
          And most humble servant,

                 SAM. JOHNSON[234].

London, Dec. 20, 1774.'


'Jan. 9, 1781.


Amidst the importance and multiplicity of affairs in which your great
office engages you, I take the liberty of recalling your attention for a
moment to literature, and will not prolong the interruption by an
apology which your character makes needless.

Mr. Hoole, a gentleman long known, and long esteemed in the India-House,
after having translated Tasso[235], has undertaken Ariosto. How well he
is qualified for his undertaking he has already shewn. He is desirous,
Sir, of your favour in promoting his proposals, and flatters me by
supposing that my testimony may advance his interest.

It is a new thing for a clerk of the India-House to translate poets;
--it is new for a Governour of Bengal to patronize learning. That he may
find his ingenuity rewarded, and that learning may flourish under your
protection, is the wish of, Sir, Your most humble servant,


I wrote to him in February, complaining of having been troubled by a
recurrence of the perplexing question of Liberty and Necessity;--and
mentioning that I hoped soon to meet him again in London.



I hoped you had got rid of all this hypocrisy of misery. What have you
to do with Liberty and Necessity[236]? Or what more than to hold your
tongue about it? Do not doubt but I shall be most heartily glad to see
you here again, for I love every part about you but your affectation
of distress.

I have at last finished my _Lives_, and have laid up for you a load of
copy[237], all out of order, so that it will amuse you a long time to
set it right. Come to me, my dear Bozzy, and let us be as happy as we
can. We will go again to the Mitre, and talk old times over.

     I am, dear Sir,
          Yours affectionately,
               'SAM. JOHNSON.'

March, 14, 1781.

On Monday, March 19, I arrived in London, and on Tuesday, the 20th, met
him in Fleet-street, walking, or rather indeed moving along; for his
peculiar march is thus described in a very just and picturesque manner,
in a short Life[238] of him published very soon after his death:--'When
he walked the streets, what with the constant roll of his head, and the
concomitant motion of his body, he appeared to make his way by that
motion, independent of his feet.' That he was often much stared at while
he advanced in this manner, may easily be believed; but it was not safe
to make sport of one so robust as he was. Mr. Langton saw him one day,
in a fit of absence, by a sudden start, drive the load off a porter's
back, and walk forward briskly, without being conscious of what he
had done.

The porter was very angry, but stood still, and eyed the huge figure
with much earnestness, till he was satisfied that his wisest course was
to be quiet, and take up his burthen again.

Our accidental meeting in the street after a long separation was a
pleasing surprize to us both. He stepped aside with me into
Falcon-court, and made kind inquiries about my family, and as we were in
a hurry going different ways, I promised to call on him next day; he
said he was engaged to go out in the morning. 'Early, Sir?' said I.
JOHNSON: 'Why, Sir, a London morning does not go with the sun.'

I waited on him next evening, and he gave me a great portion of his
original manuscript of his _Lives of the Poets_, which he had
preserved for me.

I found on visiting his friend, Mr. Thrale, that he was now very ill,
and had removed, I suppose by the solicitation of Mrs. Thrale, to a
house in Grosvenor-square[239]. I was sorry to see him sadly changed in
his appearance.

He told me I might now have the pleasure to see Dr. Johnson drink wine
again, for he had lately returned to it. When I mentioned this to
Johnson, he said, 'I drink it now sometimes, but not socially.' The
first evening that I was with him at Thrale's, I observed he poured a
large quantity of it into a glass, and swallowed it greedily. Every
thing about his character and manners was forcible and violent; there
never was any moderation; many a day did he fast, many a year did he
refrain from wine; but when he did eat, it was voraciously; when he did
drink wine, it was copiously. He could practise abstinence, but not

Mrs. Thrale and I had a dispute, whether Shakspeare or Milton had drawn
the most admirable picture of a man[241]. I was for Shakspeare; Mrs.
Thrale for Milton; and after a fair hearing, Johnson decided for
my opinion.

I told him of one of Mr. Burke's playful sallies upon Dean Marlay[242]:
'I don't like the Deanery of _Ferns_, it sounds so like a _barren_
title.'--'Dr. Heath should have it;' said I. Johnson laughed, and
condescending to trifle in the same mode of conceit, suggested Dr.

He said, 'Mrs. Montagu has dropt me. Now, Sir, there are people whom one
should like very well to drop, but would not wish to be dropped
by[244].' He certainly was vain of the society of ladies, and could make
himself very agreeable to them, when he chose it; Sir Joshua Reynolds
agreed with me that he could. Mr. Gibbon, with his usual sneer,
controverted it, perhaps in resentment of Johnson's having talked with
some disgust of his ugliness[245], which one would think a _philosopher_
would not mind. Dean Marlay wittily observed, 'A lady may be vain, when
she can turn a wolf-dog into a lap-dog.'

The election for Ayrshire, my own county, was this spring tried upon a
petition, before a Committee of the House of Commons. I was one of the
Counsel for the sitting member, and took the liberty of previously
stating different points to Johnson, who never failed to see them
clearly, and to supply me with some good hints. He dictated to me the
following note upon the registration of deeds:--

'All laws are made for the convenience of the community: what is legally
done, should be legally recorded, that the state of things may be known,
and that wherever evidence is requisite, evidence may be had. For this
reason, the obligation to frame and establish a legal register is
enforced by a legal penalty, which penalty is the want of that
perfection and plentitude of right which a register would give. Thence
it follows, that this is not an objection merely legal: for the reason
on which the law stands being equitable, makes it an equitable

'This (said he) you must enlarge on, when speaking to the Committee. You
must not argue there as if you were arguing in the schools[246]; close
reasoning will not fix their attention; you must say the same thing over
and over again, in different words. If you say it but once, they miss it
in a moment of inattention. It is unjust, Sir, to censure lawyers for
multiplying words when they argue; it is often necessary for them to
multiply words[247].' His notion of the duty of a member of Parliament,
sitting upon an election-committee[248], was very high; and when he was
told of a gentleman upon one of those committees, who read the
newspapers part of the time, and slept the rest, while the merits of a
vote were examined by the counsel; and as an excuse, when challenged by
the chairman for such behaviour, bluntly answered, 'I had made up my
mind upon that case;'--Johnson, with an indignant contempt, said, 'If he
was such a rogue as to make up his mind upon a case without hearing it,
he should not have been such a fool as to tell it.' 'I think (said Mr.
Dudley Long[249], now North) the Doctor has pretty plainly made him out
to be both rogue and fool.'

Johnson's profound reverence for the Hierarchy[250] made him expect from
bishops the highest degree of decorum; he was offended even at their
going to taverns; 'A bishop (said he) has nothing to do at a
tippling-house. It is not indeed immoral in him to go to a tavern;
neither would it be immoral in him to whip a top in Grosvenor-square.
But, if he did, I hope the boys would fall upon him, and apply
the whip to _him_. There are gradations in conduct; there is
morality,--decency,--propriety. None of these should be violated by a
bishop. A bishop should not go to a house where he may meet a young
fellow leading out a wench.' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, every tavern does not
admit women.' JOHNSON. 'Depend upon it, Sir, any tavern will admit a
well-drest man and a well-drest woman; they will not perhaps admit a
woman whom they see every night walking by their door, in the street.
But a well-drest man may lead in a well-drest woman to any tavern in
London. Taverns sell meat and drink, and will sell them to any body who
can eat and can drink. You may as well say that a mercer will not sell
silks to a woman of the town.'

He also disapproved of bishops going to routs, at least of their staying
at them longer than their presence commanded respect. He mentioned a
particular bishop. 'Poh! (said Mrs. Thrale) the Bishop of ----[251] is
never minded at a rout.' BOSWELL. 'When a bishop places himself in a
situation where he has no distinct character, and is of no consequence,
he degrades the dignity of his order.' JOHNSON. 'Mr. Boswell, Madam, has
said it as correctly as it could be.'

Nor was it only in the dignitaries of the Church that Johnson required a
particular decorum and delicacy of behaviour; he justly considered that
the clergy, as persons set apart for the sacred office of serving at the
altar, and impressing the minds of men with the aweful concerns of a
future state, should be somewhat more serious than the generality of
mankind, and have a suitable composure of manners. A due sense of the
dignity of their profession, independent of higher motives, will ever
prevent them from losing their distinction in an indiscriminate
sociality; and did such as affect this, know how much it lessens them in
the eyes of those whom they think to please by it, they would feel
themselves much mortified.

Johnson and his friend, Beauclerk, were once together in company with
several clergymen, who thought that they should appear to advantage, by
assuming the lax jollity of _men of the world;_ which, as it may be
observed in similar cases, they carried to noisy excess. Johnson, who
they expected would be _entertained,_ sat grave and silent for some
time; at last, turning to Beauclerk, he said, by no means in a whisper,
'This merriment of parsons is mighty offensive.'

Even the dress of a clergyman should be in character, and nothing can be
more despicable than conceited attempts at avoiding the appearance of
the clerical order; attempts, which are as ineffectual as they are
pitiful. Dr. Porteus, now Bishop of London, in his excellent charge when
presiding over the diocese of Chester, justly animadverts upon this
subject; and observes of a reverend fop, that he 'can be but _half a

Addison, in _The Spectator_[253], has given us a fine portrait of a
clergyman, who is supposed to be a member of his _Club_; and Johnson has
exhibited a model, in the character of Mr. Mudge[254], which has escaped
the collectors of his works, but which he owned to me, and which indeed
he shewed to Sir Joshua Reynolds at the time when it was written. It
bears the genuine marks of Johnson's best manner, and is as

'The Reverend Mr. _Zacariah Mudge_, Prebendary of Exeter, and Vicar of
St. Andrew's in Plymouth; a man equally eminent for his virtues and
abilities, and at once beloved as a companion and reverenced as a
pastor. He had that general curiosity to which no kind of knowledge is
indifferent or superfluous; and that general benevolence by which no
order of men is hated or despised.

His principles both of thought and action were great and comprehensive.
By a solicitous examination of objections, and judicious comparison of
opposite arguments, he attained what enquiry never gives but to industry
and perspicuity, a firm and unshaken settlement of conviction. But his
firmness was without asperity; for, knowing with how much difficulty
truth was sometimes found, he did not wonder that many missed it.

The general course of his life was determined by his profession; he
studied the sacred volumes in the original languages; with what
diligence and success, his _Notes upon the Psalms_ give sufficient
evidence. He once endeavoured to add the knowledge of Arabick to that of
Hebrew; but finding his thoughts too much diverted from other studies,
after some time desisted from his purpose.

His discharge of parochial duties was exemplary. How his _Sermons_[256]
were composed, may be learned from the excellent volume which he has
given to the publick; but how they were delivered, can be known only to
those that heard them; for as he appeared in the pulpit, words will not
easily describe him. His delivery, though unconstrained was not
negligent, and though forcible was not turbulent; disdaining anxious
nicety of emphasis, and laboured artifice of action, it captivated the
hearer by its natural dignity, it roused the sluggish, and fixed the
volatile, and detained the mind upon the subject, without directing it
to the speaker.

The grandeur and solemnity of the preacher did not intrude upon his
general behaviour; at the table of his friends he was a companion
communicative and attentive, of unaffected manners, of manly
cheerfulness, willing to please, and easy to be pleased. His
acquaintance was universally solicited, and his presence obstructed no
enjoyment which religion did not forbid. Though studious he was popular;
though argumentative he was modest; though inflexible he was candid; and
though metaphysical yet orthodox[257].'

On Friday, March 30, I dined with him at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, with
the Earl of Charlemont, Sir Annesley Stewart, Mr. Eliot of Port-Eliot,
Mr. Burke, Dean Marlay, Mr. Langton; a most agreeable day, of which I
regret that every circumstance is not preserved; but it is unreasonable
to require such a multiplication of felicity.

Mr. Eliot, with whom Dr. Walter Harte had travelled[258], talked to us
of his _History of Gustavus Adolphus_, which he said was a very good
book in the German translation. JOHNSON. 'Harte was excessively vain. He
put copies of his book in manuscript into the hands of Lord Chesterfield
and Lord Granville, that they might revise it. Now how absurd was it to
suppose that two such noblemen would revise so big a manuscript. Poor
man! he left London the day of the publication of his book, that he
might be out of the way of the great praise he was to receive; and he
was ashamed to return, when he found how ill his book had succeeded. It
was unlucky in coming out on the same day with Robertson's _History of
Scotland_[259]. His husbandry[260], however, is good.' BOSWELL. 'So he
was fitter for that than for heroick history: he did well, when he
turned his sword into a plough-share.'

Mr. Eliot mentioned a curious liquor peculiar to his country, which the
Cornish fishermen drink. They call it _Mahogany_; and it is made of two
parts gin, and one part treacle, well beaten together. I begged to have
some of it made, which was done with proper skill by Mr. Eliot. I
thought it very good liquor; and said it was a counterpart of what is
called _Athol Porridge_ in the Highlands of Scotland, which is a mixture
of whisky and honey. Johnson said, 'that must be a better liquor than
the Cornish, for both its component parts are better.' He also
observed, '_Mahogany_ must be a modern name; for it is not long since
the wood called mahogany was known in this country.' I mentioned his
scale of liquors[261];--claret for boys--port for men--brandy for
heroes. 'Then (said Mr. Burke) let me have claret: I love to be a boy;
to have the careless gaiety of boyish days.' JOHNSON. 'I should drink
claret too, if it would give me that; but it does not: it neither makes
boys men, nor men boys. You'll be drowned by it, before it has any
effect upon you.'

I ventured to mention a ludicrous paragraph in the newspapers, that Dr.
Johnson was learning to dance of Vestris[262]. Lord Charlemont, wishing
to excite him to talk, proposed in a whisper, that he should be asked,
whether it was true. 'Shall I ask him?' said his Lordship. We were, by a
great majority, clear for the experiment. Upon which his Lordship very
gravely, and with a courteous air said, 'Pray, Sir, is it true that you
are taking lessons of Vestris?' This was risking a good deal, and
required the boldness of a General of Irish Volunteers to make the
attempt. Johnson was at first startled, and in some heat answered, 'How
can your Lordship ask so simple a question?' But immediately recovering
himself, whether from unwillingness to be deceived, or to appear
deceived, or whether from real good humour, he kept up the joke: 'Nay,
but if any body were to answer the paragraph, and contradict it, I'd
have a reply, and would say, that he who contradicted it was no friend
either to Vestris or me. For why should not Dr.[263] Johnson add to his
other powers a little corporeal agility? Socrates learnt to dance at an
advanced age, and Cato learnt Greek at an advanced age. Then it might
proceed to say, that this Johnson, not content with dancing on the
ground, might dance on the rope; and they might introduce the elephant
dancing on the rope. A nobleman[264] wrote a play, called _Love in a
hollow Tree_. He found out that it was a bad one, and therefore wished
to buy up all the copies, and burn them. The Duchess of Marlborough had
kept one; and when he was against her at an election, she had a new
edition of it printed, and prefixed to it, as a frontispiece, an
elephant dancing on a rope; to shew, that his Lordship's writing comedy
was as aukward as an elephant dancing on a rope[265].'

On Sunday, April 1, I dined with him at Mr. Thrale's, with Sir Philip
Jennings Clerk and Mr. Perkins[266], who had the superintendence of Mr.
Thrale's brewery, with a salary of five hundred pounds a year. Sir
Philip had the appearance of a gentleman of ancient family, well
advanced in life. He wore his own white hair in a bag of goodly size, a
black velvet coat, with an embroidered waistcoat, and very rich laced
ruffles; which Mrs. Thrale said were old fashioned, but which, for that
reason, I thought the more respectable, more like a Tory; yet Sir Philip
was then in Opposition in Parliament[267]. 'Ah, Sir, (said Johnson,)
ancient ruffles and modern principles do not agree.' Sir Philip defended
the Opposition to the American war ably and with temper, and I joined
him. He said, the majority of the nation was against the ministry.
JOHNSON. '_I_, Sir, am against the ministry[268]; but it is for having
too little of that, of which Opposition thinks they have too much. Were
I minister, if any man wagged his finger against me, he should be turned
out[269]; for that which it is in the power of Government to give at
pleasure to one or to another, should be given to the supporters of
Government. If you will not oppose at the expence of losing your place,
your opposition will not be honest, you will feel no serious grievance;
and the present opposition is only a contest to get what others have.
Sir Robert Walpole acted as I would do. As to the American war, the
_sense_ of the nation is _with_ the ministry. The majority of those who
can _understand_ is with it; the majority of those who can only _hear_,
is against it; and as those who can only hear are more numerous than
those who can understand, and Opposition is always loudest, a majority
of the rabble will be for Opposition.'

This boisterous vivacity entertained us; but the truth in my opinion
was, that those who could understand the best were against the American
war, as almost every man now is, when the question has been coolly

Mrs. Thrale gave high praise to Mr. Dudley Long, (now North). JOHNSON.
'Nay, my dear lady, don't talk so. Mr. Long's character is very _short_.
It is nothing. He fills a chair. He is a man of genteel appearance, and
that is all[270]. I know nobody who blasts by praise as you do: for
whenever there is exaggerated praise, every body is set against a
character. They are provoked to attack it. Now there is Pepys[271]; you
praised that man with such disproportion, that I was incited to lessen
him, perhaps more than he deserves[272]. His blood is upon your
head[273]. By the same principle, your malice defeats itself; for your
censure is too violent. And yet (looking to her with a leering smile)
she is the first woman in the world, could she but restrain that wicked
tongue of hers;--she would be the only woman, could she but command that
little whirligig[274].'

Upon the subject of exaggerated praise I took the liberty to say, that I
thought there might be very high praise given to a known character which
deserved it, and therefore it would not be exaggerated. Thus, one might
say of Mr. Edmund Burke, He is a very wonderful man. JOHNSON. 'No, Sir,
you would not be safe if another man had a mind perversely to
contradict. He might answer, "Where is all the wonder? Burke is, to be
sure, a man of uncommon abilities, with a great quantity of matter in
his mind, and a great fluency of language in his mouth. But we are not
to be stunned and astonished by him." So you see, Sir, even Burke would
suffer, not from any fault of his own, but from your folly.'

Mrs. Thrale mentioned a gentleman who had acquired a fortune of four
thousand a year in trade, but was absolutely miserable, because he could
not talk in company; so miserable, that he was impelled to lament his
situation in the street to ----[275], whom he hates, and who he knows
despises him. 'I am a most unhappy man (said he). I am invited to
conversations. I go to conversations; but, alas! I have no
conversation.' JOHNSON. 'Man commonly cannot be successful in different
ways. This gentleman has spent, in getting four thousand pounds a year,
the time in which he might have learnt to talk; and now he cannot talk.'
Mr. Perkins made a shrewd and droll remark: 'If he had got his four
thousand a year as a mountebank, he might have learnt to talk at the
same time that he was getting his fortune.'

Some other gentlemen came in. The conversation concerning the person
whose character Dr. Johnson had treated so slightingly, as he did not
know his merit, was resumed. Mrs. Thrale said, 'You think so of him,
Sir, because he is quiet, and does not exert himself with force. You'll
be saying the same thing of Mr. ---- there, who sits as quiet--.' This
was not well-bred; and Johnson did not let it pass without correction.
'Nay, Madam, what right have you to talk thus? Both Mr. ---- and I have
reason to take it ill. _You_ may talk so of Mr. ----; but why do you
make _me_ do it. Have I said anything against Mr. ----? You have _set_
him, that I might shoot him: but I have not shot him.'

One of the gentlemen said, he had seen three folio volumes of Dr.
Johnson's sayings collected by me. 'I must put you right, Sir, (said I;)
for I am very exact in authenticity. You could not see folio volumes,
for I have none: you might have seen some in quarto and octavo. This is
inattention which one should guard against.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, it is a want
of concern about veracity. He does not know that he saw _any_ volumes.
If he had seen them he could have remembered their size[276].'

Mr. Thrale appeared very lethargick to-day. I saw him again on Monday
evening, at which time he was not thought to be in immediate danger; but
early in the morning of Wednesday, the 4th[277], he expired[278].
Johnson was in the house, and thus mentions the event: 'I felt almost
the last flutter of his pulse, and looked for the last time upon the
face that for fifteen years had never been turned upon me but with
respect and benignity[279].' Upon that day there was a Call of the
LITERARY CLUB; but Johnson apologised for his absence by the
following note:--

'MR. JOHNSON knows that Sir Joshua Reynolds and the other gentlemen will
excuse his incompliance with the call, when they are told that Mr.
Thrale died this morning.' Wednesday.'

Mr. Thrale's death was a very essential loss to Johnson[280], who,
although he did not foresee all that afterwards happened, was
sufficiently convinced that the comforts which Mr. Thrale's family
afforded him, would now in a great measure cease. He, however continued
to shew a kind attention to his widow and children as long as it was
acceptable; and he took upon him, with a very earnest concern, the
office of one of his executors, the importance of which seemed greater
than usual to him, from his circumstances having been always such, that
he had scarcely any share in the real business of life[281]. His friends
of the CLUB were in hopes that Mr. Thrale might have made a liberal
provision for him for his life, which, as Mr. Thrale left no son, and a
very large fortune, it would have been highly to his honour to have
done; and, considering Dr. Johnson's age, could not have been of long
duration; but he bequeathed him only two hundred pounds, which was the
legacy given to each of his executors[282]. I could not but be somewhat
diverted by hearing Johnson talk in a pompous manner of his new office,
and particularly of the concerns of the brewery, which it was at last
resolved should be sold[283]. Lord Lucan[284] tells a very good story,
which, if not precisely exact, is certainly characteristic: that when
the sale of Thrale's brewery was going forward, Johnson appeared
bustling about, with an ink-horn and pen in his button-hole, like an
excise-man; and on being asked what he really considered to be the value
of the property which was to be disposed of, answered, 'We are not here
to sell a parcel of boilers and vats but the potentiality of growing
rich, beyond the dreams of avarice[285].'

On Friday, April 6, he carried me to dine at a club, which, at his
desire, had been lately formed at the Queen's Arms, in St. Paul's
Church-yard. He told Mr. Hoole, that he wished to have a _City Club_,
and asked him to collect one; but, said he, 'Don't let them be
_patriots_[286].' The company were to-day very sensible, well-behaved
men. I have preserved only two particulars of his conversation. He said
he was glad Lord George Gordon had escaped[287], rather than that a
precedent should be established for hanging a man for _constructive
treason_; which, in consistency with his true, manly, constitutional
Toryism, he considered would be a dangerous engine of arbitrary power.
And upon its being mentioned that an opulent and very indolent Scotch
nobleman, who totally resigned the management of his affairs to a man of
knowledge and abilities, had claimed some merit by saying, 'The next
best thing to managing a man's own affairs well is being sensible of
incapacity, and not attempting it, but having full confidence in one who
can do it:' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, this is paltry. There is a middle
course. Let a man give application; and depend upon it he will soon get
above a despicable state of helplessness, and attain the power of acting
for himself.'

On Saturday, April 7, I dined with him at Mr. Hoole's with Governour
Bouchier and Captain Orme, both of whom had been long in the
East-Indies; and being men of good sense and observation, were very
entertaining. Johnson defended the oriental regulation of different
_casts_ of men, which was objected to as totally destructive of the
hopes of rising in society by personal merit. He shewed that there was a
_principle_ in it sufficiently plausible by analogy. 'We see (said he)
in metals that there are different species; and so likewise in animals,
though one species may not differ very widely from another, as in the
species of dogs,--the cur, the spaniel, the mastiff. The Bramins are the
mastiffs of mankind.'

On Thursday, April 12, I dined with him at a Bishop's, where were Sir
Joshua Reynolds, Mr. Berrenger, and some more company. He had dined the
day before at another Bishop's. I have unfortunately recorded none of
his conversation at the Bishop's where we dined together[288]: but I
have preserved his ingenious defence of his dining twice abroad in
Passion-week[289]; a laxity, in which I am convinced he would not have
indulged himself at the time when he wrote his solemn paper in _The
Rambler_[290], upon that aweful season. It appeared to me, that by
being much more in company, and enjoying more luxurious living, he had
contracted a keener relish of pleasure, and was consequently less
rigorous in his religious rites. This he would not acknowledge; but he
reasoned with admirable sophistry, as follows: 'Why, Sir, a Bishop's
calling company together in this week is, to use the vulgar phrase, not
_the thing_. But you must consider laxity is a bad thing; but
preciseness is also a bad thing; and your general character may be more
hurt by preciseness than by dining with a Bishop in Passion-week. There
might be a handle for reflection. It might be said, 'He refused to dine
with a Bishop in Passion-week, but was three Sundays absent from
Church.' BOSWELL. 'Very true, Sir. But suppose a man to be uniformly of
good conduct, would it not be better that he should refuse to dine with
a Bishop in this week, and so not encourage a bad practice by his
example?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, you are to consider whether you might not
do more harm by lessening the influence of a Bishop's character by your
disapprobation in refusing him, than by going to him.'



'Life is full of troubles. I have just lost my dear friend Thrale. I
hope he is happy; but I have had a great loss. I am otherwise pretty
well. I require some care of myself, but that care is not ineffectual;
and when I am out of order, I think it often my own fault.

'The spring is now making quick advances. As it is the season in which
the whole world is enlivened and invigorated, I hope that both you and I
shall partake of its benefits. My desire is to see Lichfield; but being
left executor to my friend, I know not whether I can be spared; but I
will try, for it is now long since we saw one another, and how little we
can promise ourselves many more interviews, we are taught by hourly
examples of mortality. Let us try to live so as that mortality may not
be an evil. Write to me soon, my dearest; your letters will give me
great pleasure.

'I am sorry that Mr. Porter has not had his box; but by sending it to
Mr. Mathias, who very readily undertook its conveyance, I did the best I
could, and perhaps before now he has it.

'Be so kind as to make my compliments to my friends; I have a great
value for their kindness, and hope to enjoy it before summer is past. Do
write to me. I am, dearest love,

'Your most humble servant,


'London, April 12, 1781.'

On Friday, April 13, being Good-Friday, I went to St. Clement's church
with him as usual. There I saw again his old fellow-collegian,
Edwards[291], to whom I said, 'I think, Sir, Dr. Johnson and you meet
only at Church.'--'Sir, (said he,) it is the best place we can meet in,
except Heaven, and I hope we shall meet there too.' Dr. Johnson told me,
that there was very little communication between Edwards and him, after
their unexpected renewal of acquaintance. 'But (said he, smiling) he met
me once, and said, "I am told you have written a very pretty book called
_The Rambler_." I was unwilling that he should leave the world in total
darkness, and sent him a set.'

Mr. Berrenger[292] visited him to-day, and was very pleasing. We talked
of an evening society for conversation at a house in town, of which we
were all members, but of which Johnson said, 'It will never do, Sir.
There is nothing served about there, neither tea, nor coffee, nor
lemonade, nor any thing whatever; and depend upon it, Sir, a man does
not love to go to a place from whence he comes out exactly as he went
in.' I endeavoured, for argument's sake, to maintain that men of
learning and talents might have very good intellectual society, without
the aid of any little gratifications of the senses. Berrenger joined
with Johnson, and said, that without these any meeting would be dull and
insipid. He would therefore have all the slight refreshments; nay, it
would not be amiss to have some cold meat, and a bottle of wine upon a
side-board. 'Sir, (said Johnson to me, with an air of triumph,) Mr.
Berrenger knows the world. Every body loves to have good things
furnished to them without any trouble. I told Mrs. Thrale once, that as
she did not choose to have card tables, she should have a profusion of
the best sweetmeats, and she would be sure to have company enough come
to her[293].' I agreed with my illustrious friend upon this subject;
for it has pleased GOD to make man a composite animal, and where there
is nothing to refresh the body, the mind will languish.

On Sunday, April 15, being Easter-day, after solemn worship in St.
Paul's church, I found him alone; Dr. Scott of the Commons came in. He
talked of its having been said that Addison wrote some of his best
papers in _The Spectator_ when warm with wine[294]. Dr. Johnson did not
seem willing to admit this. Dr. Scott, as a confirmation of it, related,
that Blackstone, a sober man, composed his _Commentaries_ with a bottle
of port before him; and found his mind invigorated and supported in the
fatigue of his great work, by a temperate use of it[295].

I told him, that in a company where I had lately been, a desire was
expressed to know his authority for the shocking story of Addison's
sending an execution into Steele's house[296]. 'Sir, (said he,) it is
generally known, it is known to all who are acquainted with the literary
history of that period. It is as well known, as that he wrote _Cato_.'
Mr. Thomas Sheridan once defended Addison to me, by alledging that he
did it in order to cover Steele's goods from other creditors, who were
going to seize them.

We talked of the difference between the mode of education at Oxford,
and that in those Colleges where instruction is chiefly conveyed by
lectures[297]. JOHNSON. 'Lectures were once useful; but now, when all
can read, and books are so numerous, lectures are unnecessary. If your
attention fails, and you miss a part of a lecture, it is lost; you
cannot go back as you do upon a book.' Dr. Scott agreed with him. 'But
yet (said I), Dr. Scott, you yourself gave lectures at Oxford[298].' He
smiled. 'You laughed (then said I) at those who came to you.'

Dr. Scott left us, and soon afterwards we went to dinner. Our company
consisted of Mrs. Williams, Mrs. Desmoulins, Mr. Levett, Mr. Allen, the
printer, and Mrs. Hall[299], sister of the Reverend Mr. John Wesley, and
resembling him, as I thought, both in figure and manner. Johnson
produced now, for the first time, some handsome silver salvers, which he
told me he had bought fourteen years ago; so it was a great day. I was
not a little amused by observing Allen perpetually struggling to talk in
the manner of Johnson, like the little frog in the fable blowing himself
up to resemble the stately ox[300].

I mentioned a kind of religious Robinhood Society[301], which met every
Sunday evening, at Coachmakers'-hall, for free debate; and that the
subject for this night was, the text which relates, with other miracles,
which happened at our SAVIOUR'S death, 'And the graves were opened, and
many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves
after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto
many[302].' Mrs. Hall said it was a very curious subject, and she should
like to hear it discussed. JOHNSON, (somewhat warmly) 'One would not go
to such a place to hear it,--one would not be seen in such a place--to
give countenance to such a meeting.' I, however, resolved that I would
go. 'But, Sir, (said she to Johnson,) I should like to hear _you_
discuss it.' He seemed reluctant to engage in it. She talked of the
resurrection of the human race in general, and maintained that we shall
be raised with the same bodies. JOHNSON. 'Nay, Madam, we see that it is
not to be the same body; for the Scripture uses the illustration of
grain sown, and we know that the grain which grows is not the same with
what is sown[303]. You cannot suppose that we shall rise with a diseased
body; it is enough if there be such a sameness as to distinguish
identity of person.' She seemed desirous of knowing more, but he left
the question in obscurity.

Of apparitions[304], he observed, 'A total disbelief of them is adverse
to the opinion of the existence of the soul between death and the last
day; the question simply is, whether departed spirits ever have the
power of making themselves perceptible to us; a man who thinks he has
seen an apparition, can only be convinced himself; his authority will
not convince another, and his conviction, if rational, must be founded
on being told something which cannot be known but by supernatural means.'

He mentioned a thing as not unfrequent, of which I had never heard
before,--being _called_, that is, hearing one's name pronounced by the
voice of a known person at a great distance, far beyond the possibility
of being reached by any sound uttered by human organs. 'An acquaintance,
on whose veracity I can depend, told me, that walking home one evening
to Kilmarnock, he heard himself called from a wood, by the voice of a
brother who had gone to America; and the next packet brought accounts of
that brother's death.' Macbean[305] asserted that this inexplicable
_calling_ was a thing very well known. Dr. Johnson said, that one day at
Oxford, as he was turning the key of his chamber, he heard his mother
distinctly call Sam. She was then at Lichfield; but nothing ensued[306].
This phaenomenon is, I think, as wonderful as any other mysterious
fact, which many people are very slow to believe, or rather, indeed,
reject with an obstinate contempt.

Some time after this, upon his making a remark which escaped my
attention, Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Hall were both together striving to
answer him. He grew angry, and called out loudly, 'Nay, when you both
speak at once, it is intolerable.' But checking himself, and softening,
he said, 'This one may say, though you _are_ ladies.' Then he brightened
into gay humour, and addressed them in the words of one of the songs in
_The Beggar's Opera_[307]:--

     'But two at a time there's no mortal can bear.'

'What, Sir, (said I,) are you going to turn Captain Macheath?' There was
something as pleasantly ludicrous in this scene as can be imagined. The
contrast between Macheath, Polly, and Lucy--and Dr. Samuel Johnson,
blind, peevish Mrs. Williams, and lean, lank, preaching Mrs. Hall, was

I stole away to Coachmakers'-hall, and heard the difficult text of which
we had talked, discussed with great decency, and some intelligence, by
several speakers. There was a difference of opinion as to the appearance
of ghosts in modern times, though the arguments for it, supported by Mr.
Addison's authority[308], preponderated. The immediate subject of debate
was embarrassed by the _bodies_ of the saints having been said to rise,
and by the question what became of them afterwards; did they return
again to their graves? or were they translated to heaven? Only one
evangelist mentions the fact[309], and the commentators whom I have
looked at, do not make the passage clear. There is, however, no occasion
for our understanding it farther, than to know that it was one of the
extraordinary manifestations of divine power, which accompanied the most
important event that ever happened.

On Friday, April 20, I spent with him one of the happiest days that I
remember to have enjoyed in the whole course of my life. Mrs. Garrick,
whose grief for the loss of her husband was, I believe, as sincere as
wounded affection and admiration could produce, had this day, for the
first time since his death, a select party of his friends to dine with
her[310]. The company was Miss Hannah More, who lived with her, and whom
she called her Chaplain[311]; Mrs. Boscawen[312], Mrs. Elizabeth Carter,
Sir Joshua Reynolds, Dr. Burney, Dr. Johnson, and myself. We found
ourselves very elegantly entertained at her house in the Adelphi[313],
where I have passed many a pleasing hour with him 'who gladdened
life[314].' She looked well, talked of her husband with complacency, and
while she cast her eyes on his portrait, which hung over the
chimney-piece, said, that 'death was now the most agreeable object to
her[315].' The very semblance of David Garrick was cheering. Mr.
Beauclerk, with happy propriety, inscribed under that fine portrait of
him, which by Lady Diana's kindness is now the property of my friend Mr.
Langton, the following passage from his beloved Shakspeare:--

     'A merrier man,
      Within the limit of becoming mirth,
      I never spent an hour's talk withal.
      His eye begets occasion for his wit;
      For every object that the one doth catch,
      The other turns to a mirth-moving jest;
      Which his fair tongue (Conceit's expositor)
      Delivers in such apt and gracious words,
      That aged ears play truant at his tales,
      And younger hearings are quite ravished:
      So sweet and voluble is his discourse[316].'

We were all in fine spirits; and I whispered to Mrs. Boscawen, 'I
believe this is as much as can be made of life.' In addition to a
splendid entertainment, we were regaled with Lichfield ale[317], which
had a peculiar appropriated value. Sir Joshua, and Dr. Burney, and I,
drank cordially of it to Dr. Johnson's health; and though he would not
join us, he as cordially answered, 'Gentlemen, I wish you all as well as
you do me.'

The general effect of this day dwells upon my mind in fond remembrance;
but I do not find much conversation recorded. What I have preserved
shall be faithfully given.

One of the company mentioned Mr. Thomas Hollis, the strenuous Whig, who
used to send over Europe presents of democratical books, with their
boards stamped with daggers and caps of liberty. Mrs. Carter said, 'He
was a bad man. He used to talk uncharitably.' JOHNSON. 'Poh! poh! Madam;
who is the worse for being talked of uncharitably? Besides, he was a
dull poor creature as ever lived: And I believe he would not have done
harm to a man whom he knew to be of very opposite principles to his own.
I remember once at the Society of Arts, when an advertisement was to be
drawn up, he pointed me out as the man who could do it best. This, you
will observe, was kindness to me. I however slipt away, and escaped it.'

Mrs. Carter having said of the same person, 'I doubt he was an
Atheist[318].' JOHNSON. 'I don't know that. He might perhaps have
become one, if he had had time to ripen, (smiling.) He might have
_exuberated_ into an Atheist.'

Sir Joshua Reynolds praised _Mudge's Sermons_[319]. JOHNSON. 'Mudge's
Sermons are good, but not practical. He grasps more sense than he can
hold; he takes more corn than he can make into meal; he opens a wide
prospect, but it is so distant, it is indistinct. I love _Blair's
Sermons_. Though the dog is a Scotchman, and a Presbyterian, and every
thing he should not be, I was the first to praise them[320]. Such was my
candour.' (smiling.) MRS. BOSCAWEN. 'Such his great merit to get the
better of all your prejudices.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Madam, let us compound
the matter; let us ascribe it to my candour, and his merit.'

In the evening we had a large company in the drawing-room, several
ladies, the Bishop of Killaloe, Dr. Percy, Mr. Chamberlayne[321], of the
Treasury, &c. &c. Somebody said the life of a mere literary man could
not be very entertaining. JOHNSON. 'But it certainly may. This is a
remark which has been made, and repeated, without justice; why should
the life of a literary man be less entertaining than the life of any
other man? Are there not as interesting varieties in such a life[322]?
As _a literary life_ it may be very entertaining.' BOSWELL. 'But it must
be better surely, when it is diversified with a little active variety--
such as his having gone to Jamaica; or--his having gone to the
Hebrides.' Johnson was not displeased at this.

Talking of a very respectable authour, he told us a curious circumstance
in his life, which was, that he had married a printer's devil. REYNOLDS.
'A printer's devil, Sir! Why, I thought a printer's devil was a creature
with a black face and in rags.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir. But I suppose, he
had her face washed, and put clean clothes on her. (Then looking very
serious, and very earnest.) And she did not disgrace him; the woman had
a bottom of good sense. The word _bottom_ thus introduced, was so
ludicrous when contrasted with his gravity, that most of us could not
forbear tittering and laughing; though I recollect that the Bishop of
Killaloe kept his countenance with perfect steadiness, while Miss Hannah
More slyly hid her face behind a lady's back who sat on the same settee
with her. His pride could not bear that any expression of his should
excite ridicule, when he did not intend it; he therefore resolved to
assume and exercise despotick power, glanced sternly around, and called
out in a strong tone, 'Where's the merriment?' Then collecting himself,
and looking aweful, to make us feel how he could impose restraint, and
as it were searching his mind for a still more ludicrous word, he slowly
pronounced, 'I say the _woman_ was _fundamentally_ sensible;' as if he
had said, hear this now, and laugh if you dare. We all sat composed as
at a funeral[323].

He and I walked away together; we stopped a little while by the rails of
the Adelphi, looking on the Thames, and I said to him with some emotion
that I was now thinking of two friends we had lost, who once lived in
the buildings behind us, Beauclerk and Garrick. 'Ay, Sir, (said he,
tenderly) and two such friends as cannot be supplied[324].'

For some time after this day I did not see him very often, and of the
conversation which I did enjoy, I am sorry to find I have preserved but
little. I was at this time engaged in a variety of other matters, which
required exertion and assiduity, and necessarily occupied almost all
my time.

One day having spoken very freely of those who were then in power, he
said to me, 'Between ourselves, Sir, I do not like to give opposition
the satisfaction of knowing how much I disapprove of the ministry.' And
when I mentioned that Mr. Burke had boasted how quiet the nation was in
George the Second's reign, when Whigs were in power, compared with the
present reign, when Tories governed;--'Why, Sir, (said he,) you are to
consider that Tories having more reverence for government, will not
oppose with the same violence as Whigs, who being unrestrained by that
principle, will oppose by any means.'

This month he lost not only Mr. Thrale, but another friend, Mr. William
Strahan, Junior, printer, the eldest son of his old and constant friend,
Printer to his Majesty.



'The grief which I feel for the loss of a very kind friend is sufficient
to make me know how much you suffer by the death of an amiable son; a
man, of whom I think it may truly be said, that no one knew him who does
not lament him. I look upon myself as having a friend, another friend,
taken from me.

'Comfort, dear Madam, I would give you if I could, but I know how little
the forms of consolation can avail. Let me, however, counsel you not to
waste your health in unprofitable sorrow, but go to Bath, and endeavour
to prolong your own life; but when we have all done all that we can, one
friend must in time lose the other.

'I am, dear Madam,

'Your most humble servant,


'April 23, 1781.'

On Tuesday, May 8[325], I had the pleasure of again dining with him and
Mr. Wilkes, at Mr. Billy's[326]. No _negociation_ was now required to
bring them together; for Johnson was so well satisfied with the former
interview, that he was very glad to meet Wilkes again, who was this day
seated between Dr. Beattie and Dr. Johnson; (between _Truth_[327] and
_Reason_, as General Paoli said, when I told him of it.) WILKES. 'I have
been thinking, Dr. Johnson, that there should be a bill brought into
parliament that the controverted elections for Scotland should be tried
in that country, at their own Abbey of Holy-Rood House, and not here;
for the consequence of trying them here is, that we have an inundation
of Scotchmen, who come up and never go back again. Now here is Boswell,
who is come up upon the election for his own county, which will not last
a fortnight.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, I see no reason why they should be
tried at all; for, you know, one Scotchman is as good as another.'
WILKES. 'Pray, Boswell, how much may be got in a year by an Advocate at
the Scotch bar?' BOSWELL. 'I believe two thousand pounds.' WlLKES. 'How
can it be possible to spend that money in Scotland?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir,
the money may be spent in England: but there is a harder question. If
one man in Scotland gets possession of two thousand pounds, what remains
for all the rest of the nation?' WILKES. 'You know, in the last war, the
immense booty which Thurot[328] carried off by the complete plunder of
seven Scotch isles; he re-embarked with _three and six-pence_.' Here
again Johnson and Wilkes joined in extravagant sportive raillery upon
the supposed poverty of Scotland, which Dr. Beattie and I did not think
it worth our while to dispute.

The subject of quotation being introduced, Mr. Wilkes censured it as
pedantry[329]. JOHNSON. 'No, Sir, it is a good thing; there is a
community of mind in it. Classical quotation is the _parole_ of literary
men all over the world.' WlLKES. 'Upon the continent they all quote the
vulgate Bible. Shakspeare is chiefly quoted here; and we quote also
Pope, Prior, Butler, Waller, and sometimes Cowley[330].'

We talked of Letter-writing. JOHNSON. 'It is now become so much the
fashion to publish letters, that in order to avoid it, I put as little
into mine as I can.[331]' BOSWELL. 'Do what you will, Sir, you cannot
avoid it. Should you even write as ill as you can, your letters would be
published as curiosities:

     "Behold a miracle! instead of wit,
      See two dull lines with Stanhope's pencil writ[332]."'

He gave us an entertaining account of _Bet Flint_[333], a woman of the
town, who, with some eccentrick talents and much effrontery, forced
herself upon his acquaintance. 'Bet (said he) wrote her own Life in
verse[334], which she brought to me, wishing that I would furnish her
with a Preface to it. (Laughing.) I used to say of her that she was
generally slut and drunkard; occasionally, whore and thief. She had,
however, genteel lodgings, a spinnet on which she played, and a boy that
walked before her chair. Poor Bet was taken up on a charge of stealing a
counterpane, and tried at the Old Bailey. Chief Justice ------[335], who
loved a wench, summed up favourably, and she was acquitted. After which
Bet said, with a gay and satisfied air, 'Now that the counterpane is _my
own_, I shall make a petticoat of it.'

Talking of oratory, Mr. Wilkes described it as accompanied with all the
charms of poetical expression. JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; oratory is the power
of beating down your adversary's arguments, and putting better in their
place.' WlLKES. 'But this does not move the passions.' JOHNSON. 'He must
be a weak man, who is to be so moved.' WlLKES. (naming a celebrated
orator) 'Amidst all the brilliancy of ----'s[336] imagination, and the
exuberance of his wit, there is a strange want of _taste_. It was
observed of Apelles's Venus[337], that her flesh seemed as if she had
been nourished by roses: his oratory would sometimes make one suspect
that he eats potatoes and drinks whisky.'

Mr. Wilkes observed, how tenacious we are of forms in this country, and
gave as an instance, the vote of the House of Commons for remitting
money to pay the army in America _in Portugal pieces_[338], when, in
reality, the remittance is made not in Portugal money, but in our own
specie. JOHNSON. 'Is there not a law, Sir, against exporting the current
coin of the realm?' WlLKES. 'Yes, Sir: but might not the House of
Commons, in case of real evident necessity, order our own current coin
to be sent into our own colonies?' Here Johnson, with that quickness of
recollection which distinguished him so eminently, gave the _Middlesex
Patriot_ an admirable retort upon his own ground. 'Sure, Sir, _you_
don't think a _resolution of the House of Commons_ equal to _the law of
the land_[339].' WlLKES. (at once perceiving the application) 'GOD
forbid, Sir.' To hear what had been treated with such violence in _The
False Alarm_, now turned into pleasant repartee, was extremely
agreeable. Johnson went on;--'Locke observes well, that a prohibition
to export the current coin is impolitick; for when the balance of trade
happens to be against a state, the current coin must be exported[340].'

Mr. Beauclerk's great library[341] was this season sold in London by
auction. Mr. Wilkes said, he wondered to find in it such a numerous
collection of sermons; seeming to think it strange that a gentleman of
Mr. Beauclerk's character in the gay world should have chosen to have
many compositions of that kind. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, you are to consider,
that sermons make a considerable branch of English literature[342]; so
that a library must be very imperfect if it has not a numerous
collection of sermons[343]: and in all collections, Sir, the desire of
augmenting it grows stronger in proportion to the advance in
acquisition; as motion is accelerated by the continuance of the
_impetus_. Besides, Sir, (looking at Mr. Wilkes with a placid but
significant smile) a man may collect sermons with intention of making
himself better by them. I hope Mr. Beauclerk intended, that some time or
other that should be the case with him.'

Mr. Wilkes said to me, loud enough for Dr. Johnson to hear, 'Dr. Johnson
should make me a present of his _Lives of the Poets_, as I am a poor
patriot, who cannot afford to buy them.' Johnson seemed to take no
notice of this hint; but in a little while, he called to Mr. Dilly,
'Pray, Sir, be so good as to send a set of my _Lives_ to Mr. Wilkes,
with my compliments.' This was accordingly done; and Mr. Wilkes paid Dr.
Johnson a visit, was courteously received, and sat with him a long time.

The company gradually dropped away. Mr. Dilly himself was called down
stairs upon business; I left the room for some time; when I returned, I
was struck with observing Dr. Samuel Johnson and John Wilkes, Esq.,
literally _tête-à-tête_; for they were reclined upon their chairs, with
their heads leaning almost close to each other, and talking earnestly,
in a kind of confidential whisper, of the personal quarrel between
George the Second and the King of Prussia[344]. Such a scene of
perfectly easy sociality between two such opponents in the war of
political controversy, as that which I now beheld, would have been an
excellent subject for a picture. It presented to my mind the happy days
which are foretold in Scripture, when the lion shall lie down with the

After this day there was another pretty long interval, during which Dr.
Johnson and I did not meet. When I mentioned it to him with regret, he
was pleased to say, 'Then, Sir, let us live double.'

About this time it was much the fashion for several ladies to have
evening assemblies, where the fair sex might participate in conversation
with literary and ingenious men, animated by a desire to please. These
societies were denominated _Blue-stocking Clubs_, the origin of which
title being little known, it may be worth while to relate it. One of the
most eminent members of those societies, when they first commenced, was
Mr. Stillingfleet[346], whose dress was remarkably grave, and in
particular it was observed, that he wore blue stockings[347]. Such was
the excellence of his conversation, that his absence was felt as so
great a loss, that it used to be said, 'We can do nothing without the
_blue stockings_;' and thus by degrees the title was established. Miss
Hannah More has admirably described a _Blue-stocking Club_, in her _Bas
Bleu_[348], a poem in which many of the persons who were most
conspicuous there are mentioned.

Johnson was prevailed with to come sometimes into these circles, and did
not think himself too grave even for the lively Miss Monckton[349] (now
Countess of Corke), who used to have the finest _bit of blue_ at the
house of her mother, Lady Galway. Her vivacity enchanted the Sage, and
they used to talk together with all imaginable ease. A singular instance
happened one evening, when she insisted that some of Sterne's writings
were very pathetick. Johnson bluntly denied it. 'I am sure (said she)
they have affected _me_.' 'Why (said Johnson, smiling, and rolling
himself about,) that is, because, dearest, you're a dunce[350].' When
she some time afterwards mentioned this to him, he said with equal truth
and politeness; 'Madam, if I had thought so, I certainly should not
have said it.'

Another evening Johnson's kind indulgence towards me had a pretty
difficult trial. I had dined at the Duke of Montrose's with a very
agreeable party, and his Grace, according to his usual custom, had
circulated the bottle very freely. Lord Graham[351] and I went together
to Miss Monckton's, where I certainly was in extraordinary spirits, and
above all fear or awe. In the midst of a great number of persons of the
first rank, amongst whom I recollect with confusion, a noble lady of the
most stately decorum, I placed myself next to Johnson, and thinking
myself now fully his match, talked to him in a loud and boisterous
manner, desirous to let the company know how I could contend with
_Ajax_. I particularly remember pressing him upon the value of the
pleasures of the imagination, and as an illustration of my argument,
asking him, 'What, Sir, supposing I were to fancy that the--(naming the
most charming Duchess in his Majesty's dominions) were in love with me,
should I not be very happy?' My friend with much address evaded my
interrogatories, and kept me as quiet as possible; but it may easily be
conceived how he must have felt[352]. However, when a few days
afterwards I waited upon him and made an apology, he behaved with the
most friendly gentleness[353].

While I remained in London this year[354], Johnson and I dined together
at several places. I recollect a placid day at Dr. Butter's[355], who
had now removed from Derby to Lower Grosvenor-street, London; but of his
conversation on that and other occasions during this period, I neglected
to keep any regular record[356], and shall therefore insert here some
miscellaneous articles which I find in my Johnsonian notes.

His disorderly habits, when 'making provision for the day that was
passing over him[357],' appear from the following anecdote, communicated
to me by Mr. John Nichols:--'In the year 1763, a young bookseller, who
was an apprentice to Mr. Whiston, waited on him with a subscription to
his _Shakspeare_: and observing that the Doctor made no entry in any
book of the subscriber's name, ventured diffidently to ask, whether he
would please to have the gentleman's address, that it might be properly
inserted in the printed list of subscribers. '_I shall print no list of
subscribers_;' said Johnson, with great abruptness: but almost
immediately recollecting himself, added, very complacently, 'Sir, I have
two very cogent reasons for not printing any list of subscribers;--one,
that I have lost all the names,--the other, that I have spent all
the money.'

Johnson could not brook appearing to be worsted in argument, even when
he had taken the wrong side, to shew the force and dexterity of his
talents. When, therefore, he perceived that his opponent gained ground,
he had recourse to some sudden mode of robust sophistry. Once when I was
pressing upon him with visible advantage, he stopped me thus:--'My dear
Boswell, let's have no more of this; you'll make nothing of it. I'd
rather have you whistle a Scotch tune.'

Care, however, must be taken to distinguish between Johnson when he
'talked for victory[358],' and Johnson when he had no desire but to
inform and illustrate. 'One of Johnson's principal talents (says an
eminent friend of his)[359] was shewn in maintaining the wrong side of
an argument, and in a splendid perversion of the truth. If you could
contrive to have his fair opinion on a subject, and without any bias
from personal prejudice, or from a wish to be victorious in argument, it
was wisdom itself, not only convincing, but overpowering.'

He had, however, all his life habituated himself to consider
conversation as a trial of intellectual vigour and skill[360]; and to
this, I think, we may venture to ascribe that unexampled richness and
brilliancy which appeared in his own. As a proof at once of his
eagerness for colloquial distinction, and his high notion of this
eminent friend, he once addressed him thus:-'----, we now have been
several hours together; and you have said but one thing for which I
envied you.'

He disliked much all speculative desponding considerations, which tended
to discourage men from diligence and exertion. He was in this like Dr.
Shaw, the great traveller[361], who Mr. Daines Barrington[362] told me,
used to say, 'I hate a _cui bono_ man.' Upon being asked by a
friend[363] what he should think of a man who was apt to say _non est
tanti_;-'That he's a stupid fellow, Sir; (answered Johnson): What would
these _tanti_ men be doing the while?' When I in a low-spirited fit, was
talking to him with indifference of the pursuits which generally engage
us in a course of action, and inquiring a _reason_ for taking so much
trouble; 'Sir (said he, in an animated tone) it is driving on the
system of life.'

He told me, that he was glad that I had, by General Oglethorpe's means,
become acquainted with Dr. Shebbeare. Indeed that gentleman, whatever
objections were made to him, had knowledge and abilities much above the
class of ordinary writers, and deserves to be remembered as a
respectable name in literature, were it only for his admirable _Letters
on the English Nation_, under the name of 'Battista Angeloni, a

Johnson and Shebbeare[365] were frequently named together, as having in
former reigns had no predilection for the family of Hanover. The authour
of the celebrated _Heroick Epistle to Sir William Chambers_, introduces
them in one line, in a list of those 'who tasted the sweets of his
present Majesty's reign[366].' Such was Johnson's candid relish of the
merit of that satire, that he allowed Dr. Goldsmith, as he told me, to
read it to him from beginning to end, and did not refuse his praise to
its execution[367].

Goldsmith could sometimes take adventurous liberties with him, and
escape unpunished. Beauclerk told me that when Goldsmith talked of a
project for having a third Theatre in London, solely for the exhibition
of new plays, in order to deliver authours from the supposed tyranny of
managers, Johnson treated it slightingly; upon which Goldsmith said,
'Ay, ay, this may be nothing to you, who can now shelter yourself behind
the corner of a pension;' and that Johnson bore this with good-humour.

Johnson praised the Earl of Carlisle's Poems[368], which his Lordship
had published with his name, as not disdaining to be a candidate for
literary fame. My friend was of opinion, that when a man of rank
appeared in that character, he deserved to have his merit handsomely
allowed[369]. In this I think he was more liberal than Mr. William
Whitehead[370], in his _Elegy to Lord Villiers_, in which under the
pretext of 'superiour toils, demanding all their care,' he discovers a
jealousy of the great paying their court to the Muses:--

     '------to the chosen few
        Who dare excel, thy fost'ring aid afford,
      Their arts, their magick powers, with honours due
        Exalt;--but be thyself what they record[371].'

Johnson had called twice on the Bishop of Killaloe[372] before his
Lordship set out for Ireland, having missed him the first time. He said,
'It would have hung heavy on my heart if I had not seen him. No man ever
paid more attention to another than he has done to me[373]; and I have
neglected him, not wilfully, but from being otherwise occupied. Always,
Sir, set a high value on spontaneous kindness. He whose inclination
prompts him to cultivate your friendship of his own accord, will love
you more than one whom you have been at pains to attach to you.'

Johnson told me, that he was once much pleased to find that a
carpenter, who lived near him, was very ready to shew him some things in
his business which he wished to see: 'It was paying (said he) respect to

I asked him if he was not dissatisfied with having so small a share of
wealth, and none of those distinctions in the state which are the
objects of ambition. He had only a pension of three hundred a year. Why
was he not in such circumstances as to keep his coach? Why had he not
some considerable office? JOHNSON, 'Sir, I have never complained of the
world[374]; nor do I think that I have reason to complain. It is rather
to be wondered at that I have so much. My pension is more out of the
usual course of things than any instance that I have known. Here, Sir,
was a man avowedly no friend to Government at the time, who got a
pension without asking for it. I never courted the great; they sent for
me; but I think they now give me up. They are satisfied; they have seen
enough of me.' Upon my observing that I could not believe this, for they
must certainly be highly pleased by his conversation; conscious of his
own superiority, he answered, 'No, Sir; great lords and great ladies
don't love to have their mouths stopped[375].' This was very expressive
of the effect which the force of his understanding and brilliancy of his
fancy could not but produce; and, to be sure, they must have found
themselves strangely diminished in his company. When I warmly declared
how happy I was at all times to hear him;--'Yes, Sir, (said he); but if
you were Lord Chancellor, it would not be so: you would then consider
your own dignity.'

There was much truth and knowledge of human nature in this remark. But
certainly one should think, that in whatever elevated state of life a
man who _knew_ the value of the conversation of Johnson might be placed,
though he might prudently avoid a situation in which he might appear
lessened by comparison; yet he would frequently gratify himself in
private with the participation of the rich intellectual entertainment
which Johnson could furnish. Strange, however, it is, to consider how
few of the great sought his society[376]; so that if one were disposed
to take occasion for satire on that account, very conspicuous objects
present themselves. His noble friend, Lord Elibank, well observed, that
if a great man procured an interview with Johnson, and did not wish to
see him more, it shewed a mere idle curiosity, and a wretched want of
relish for extraordinary powers of mind[377]. Mrs. Thrale justly and
wittily accounted for such conduct by saying, that Johnson's
conversation was by much too strong for a person accustomed to
obsequiousness and flattery; it was _mustard in a young child's mouth!_

One day, when I told him that I was a zealous Tory, but not enough
'according to knowledge[378],' and should be obliged to him for 'a
reason[379],' he was so candid, and expressed himself so well, that I
begged of him to repeat what he had said, and I wrote down as follows:--


'A wise Tory and a wise Whig, I believe, will agree[380]. Their
principles are the same, though their modes of thinking are different. A
high Tory makes government unintelligible: it is lost in the clouds. A
violent Whig makes it impracticable: he is for allowing so much liberty
to every man, that there is not power enough to govern any man. The
prejudice of the Tory is for establishment; the prejudice of the Whig is
for innovation. A Tory does not wish to give more real power to
Government; but that Government should have more reverence. Then they
differ as to the Church. The Tory is not for giving more legal power to
the Clergy, but wishes they should have a considerable influence,
founded on the opinion of mankind; the Whig is for limiting and watching
them with a narrow jealousy.'



However often I have seen you, I have hitherto forgotten the note, but I
have now sent it: with my good wishes for the prosperity of you and your
partner[381], of whom, from our short conversation, I could not judge
otherwise than favourably.

I am, Sir,

Your most humble servant,


June 2, 1781.'

On Saturday, June 2, I set out for Scotland, and had promised to pay a
visit in my way, as I sometimes did, at Southill, in Bedfordshire, at
the hospitable mansion of 'Squire Dilly, the elder brother of my worthy
friends, the booksellers, in the Poultry. Dr. Johnson agreed to be of
the party this year, with Mr. Charles Dilly and me, and to go and see
Lord Bute's seat at Luton Hoe. He talked little to us in the carriage,
being chiefly occupied in reading Dr. Watson's[382] second volume of
_Chemical Essays_[383], which he liked very well, and his own _Prince
of Abyssinia_, on which he seemed to be intensely fixed; having told us,
that he had not looked at it since it was first published. I happened to
take it out of my pocket this day, and he seized upon it with avidity.
He pointed out to me the following remarkable passage[384]:--

'By what means (said the prince) are the Europeans thus powerful; or
why, since they can so easily visit Asia and Africa for trade or
conquest, cannot the Asiaticks and Africans invade their coasts, plant
colonies in their ports, and give laws to their natural princes? The
same wind that carries them back would bring us thither.' 'They are more
powerful, Sir, than we, (answered Imlac,) because they are wiser.
Knowledge will always predominate over ignorance, as man governs the
other animals. But why their knowledge is more than ours, I know not
what reason can be given, but the unsearchable will of the
Supreme Being.'

He said, 'This, Sir, no man can explain otherwise.'

We stopped at Welwyn, where I wished much to see, in company with Dr.
Johnson, the residence of the authour of _Night Thoughts_, which was
then possessed by his son, Mr. Young. Here some address was requisite,
for I was not acquainted with Mr. Young, and had I proposed to Dr.
Johnson that we should send to him, he would have checked my wish, and
perhaps been offended. I therefore concerted with Mr. Dilly, that I
should steal away from Dr. Johnson and him, and try what reception I
could procure from Mr. Young; if unfavourable, nothing was to be said;
but if agreeable, I should return and notify it to them. I hastened to
Mr. Young's, found he was at home, sent in word that a gentleman desired
to wait upon him, and was shewn into a parlour, where he and a young
lady, his daughter, were sitting. He appeared to be a plain, civil,
country gentleman; and when I begged pardon for presuming to trouble
him, but that I wished much to see his place, if he would give me leave;
he behaved very courteously, and answered, 'By all means, Sir; we are
just going to drink tea; will you sit down?' I thanked him, but said,
that Dr. Johnson had come with me from London, and I must return to the
inn and drink tea with him; that my name was Boswell, I had travelled
with him in the Hebrides. 'Sir, (said he) I should think it a great
honour to see Dr. Johnson here. Will you allow me to send for him?'
Availing myself of this opening, I said that 'I would go myself and
bring him, when he had drunk tea; he knew nothing of my calling here.'
Having been thus successful, I hastened back to the inn, and informed
Dr. Johnson that 'Mr. Young, son of Dr. Young, the authour of _Night
Thoughts_, whom I had just left, desired to have the honour of seeing
him at the house where his father lived.' Dr. Johnson luckily made no
inquiry how this invitation had arisen, but agreed to go, and when we
entered Mr. Young's parlour, he addressed him with a very polite bow,
'Sir, I had a curiosity to come and see this place. I had the honour to
know that great man[385], your father.' We went into the garden, where
we found a gravel walk, on each side of which was a row of trees,
planted by Dr. Young, which formed a handsome Gothick arch; Dr. Johnson
called it a fine grove. I beheld it with reverence.

We sat some time in the summer-house, on the outside wall of which was
inscribed, _'Ambulantes in horto audiebant vocem Dei_[386];' and in
reference to a brook by which it is situated, _'Vivendi rectè qui
prorogat horam_[387],' &c. I said to Mr. Young, that I had been told his
father was cheerful[388]. 'Sir, (said he) he was too well-bred a man not
to be cheerful in company; but he was gloomy when alone. He never was
cheerful after my mother's death, and he had met with many
disappointments.' Dr. Johnson observed to me afterwards, 'That this was
no favourable account of Dr. Young; for it is not becoming in a man to
have so little acquiescence in the ways of Providence, as to be gloomy
because he has not obtained as much preferment as he expected[389]; nor
to continue gloomy for the loss of his wife. Grief has its time[390].'
The last part of this censure was theoretically made. Practically, we
know that grief for the loss of a wife may be continued very long, in
proportion as affection has been sincere. No man knew this better than
Dr. Johnson.

We went into the church, and looked at the monument erected by Mr. Young
to his father. Mr. Young mentioned an anecdote, that his father had
received several thousand pounds of subscription-money for his
_Universal Passion_, but had lost it in the South-Sea[391]. Dr. Johnson
thought this must be a mistake; for he had never seen a

Upon the road we talked of the uncertainty of profit with which authours
and booksellers engage in the publication of literary works. JOHNSON.
'My judgement I have found is no certain rule as to the sale of a book.'
BOSWELL. 'Pray, Sir, have you been much plagued with authours sending
you their works to revise?' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; I have been thought a
sour, surly fellow.' BOSWELL. 'Very lucky for you, Sir,--in that
respect.' I must however observe, that notwithstanding what he now said,
which he no doubt imagined at the time to be the fact, there was,
perhaps, no man who more frequently yielded to the solicitations even of
very obscure authours, to read their manuscripts, or more liberally
assisted them with advice and correction[392].

He found himself very happy at 'Squire Dilly's, where there is always
abundance of excellent fare, and hearty welcome.

On Sunday, June 3, we all went to Southill church, which is very near to
Mr. Dilly's house. It being the first Sunday of the month, the holy
sacrament was administered, and I staid to partake of it. When I came
afterwards into Dr. Johnson's room, he said, 'You did right to stay and
receive the communion; I had not thought of it.' This seemed to imply
that he did not choose to approach the altar without a previous
preparation, as to which good men entertain different opinions, some
holding that it is irreverent to partake of that ordinance without
considerable premeditation; others, that whoever is a sincere Christian,
and in a proper frame of mind to discharge any other ritual duty of our
religion, may, without scruple, discharge this most solemn one. A middle
notion I believe to be the just one, which is, that communicants need
not think a long train of preparatory forms indispensibly necessary; but
neither should they rashly and lightly venture upon so aweful and
mysterious an institution. Christians must judge each for himself, what
degree of retirement and self-examination is necessary upon
each occasion.

Being in a frame of mind which, I hope for the felicity of human nature,
many experience,--in fine weather,--at the country house of a
friend,--consoled and elevated by pious exercises,--I expressed myself
with an unrestrained fervour to my 'Guide, Philosopher, and
Friend[393];' 'My dear Sir, I would fain be a good man; and I am very
good now[394]. I fear GOD, and honour the King, I wish to do no ill, and
to be benevolent to all mankind.' He looked at me with a benignant
indulgence; but took occasion to give me wise and salutary caution. 'Do
not, Sir, accustom yourself to trust to _impressions_. There is a middle
state of mind between conviction and hypocrisy, of which many are
conscious[395]. By trusting to impressions, a man may gradually come to
yield to them, and at length be subject to them, so as not to be a free
agent, or what is the same thing in effect, to _suppose_ that he is not
a free agent. A man who is in that state, should not be suffered to
live; if he declares he cannot help acting in a particular way, and is
irresistibly impelled, there can be no confidence in him, no more than
in a tyger. But, Sir, no man believes himself to be impelled
irresistibly; we know that he who says he believes it, lies. Favourable
impressions at particular moments, as to the state of our souls, may be
deceitful and dangerous. In general no man can be sure of his acceptance
with God; some, indeed, may have had it revealed to them. St. Paul, who
wrought miracles, may have had a miracle wrought on himself, and may
have obtained supernatural assurance of pardon, and mercy, and
beatitude; yet St. Paul, though he expresses strong hope, also expresses
fear, lest having preached to others, he himself should be a

The opinion of a learned Bishop of our acquaintance, as to there being
merit in religious faith, being mentioned;--JOHNSON. 'Why, yes, Sir, the
most licentious man, were hell open before him, would not take the most
beautiful strumpet to his arms. We must, as the Apostle says, live by
faith, not by sight[397].'

I talked to him of original sin[398], in consequence of the fall of man,
and of the atonement made by our SAVIOUR. After some conversation, which
he desired me to remember, he, at my request, dictated to me as

'With respect to original sin, the inquiry is not necessary; for
whatever is the cause of human corruption, men are evidently and
confessedly so corrupt, that all the laws of heaven and earth are
insufficient to restrain them from crimes.

'Whatever difficulty there may be in the conception of vicarious
punishments, it is an opinion which has had possession of mankind in all
ages. There is no nation that has not used the practice of sacrifices.
Whoever, therefore, denies the propriety of vicarious punishments, holds
an opinion which the sentiments and practice of mankind have
contradicted, from the beginning of the world. The great sacrifice for
the sins of mankind was offered at the death of the MESSIAH, who is
called in scripture "The Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins[399] of
the world." To judge of the reasonableness of the scheme of redemption,
it must be considered as necessary to the government of the universe,
that GOD should make known his perpetual and irreconcileable detestation
of moral evil. He might indeed punish, and punish only the offenders;
but as the end of punishment is not revenge of crimes, but propagation
of virtue, it was more becoming the Divine clemency to find another
manner of proceeding, less destructive to man, and at least equally
powerful to promote goodness. The end of punishment is to reclaim and
warn. _That_ punishment will both reclaim and warn, which shews
evidently such abhorrence of sin in GOD, as may deter us from it, or
strike us with dread of vengeance when we have committed it. This is
effected by vicarious punishment. Nothing could more testify the
opposition between the nature of GOD and moral evil, or more amply
display his justice, to men and angels, to all orders and successions of
beings, than that it was necessary for the highest and purest nature,
even for DIVINITY itself, to pacify the demands of vengeance, by a
painful death; of which the natural effect will be, that when justice is
appeased, there is a proper place for the exercise of mercy; and that
such propitiation shall supply, in some degree, the imperfections of our
obedience, and the inefficacy of our repentance: for, obedience and
repentance, such as we can perform, are still necessary. Our SAVIOUR has
told us, that he did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill; to
fulfill the typical law, by the performance of what those types had
foreshewn; and the moral law, by precepts of greater purity and higher

[Here he said, 'GOD bless you with it.' I acknowledged myself much
obliged to him; but I begged that he would go on as to the propitiation
being the chief object of our most holy faith. He then dictated this one
other paragraph.]

'The peculiar doctrine of Christianity is, that of an universal
sacrifice, and perpetual propitiation. Other prophets only proclaimed
the will and the threatenings of GOD. CHRIST satisfied his

The Reverend Mr. Palmer[401], Fellow of Queen's College, Cambridge,
dined with us. He expressed a wish that a better provision were made for
parish-clerks. JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, a parish-clerk should be a man who is
able to make a will, or write a letter for any body in the parish.'

I mentioned Lord Monboddo's notion[402] that the ancient Egyptians, with
all their learning, and all their arts, were not only black, but
woolly-haired. Mr. Palmer asked how did it appear upon examining the
mummies? Dr. Johnson approved of this test[403].

Although upon most occasions[404] I never heard a more strenuous
advocate for the advantages of wealth, than Dr. Johnson: he this day, I
know not from what caprice, took the other side. 'I have not observed
(said he) that men of very large fortunes enjoy any thing extraordinary
that makes happiness. What has the Duke of Bedford? What has the Duke of
Devonshire? The only great instance that I have ever known of the
enjoyment of wealth was, that of Jamaica Dawkins, who, going to visit
Palmyra, and hearing that the way was infested by robbers, hired a troop
of Turkish horse to guard him[405].'

Dr. Gibbons[406], the Dissenting minister, being mentioned, he said, 'I
took to Dr. Gibbons.' And addressing himself to Mr. Charles Dilly,
added, 'I shall be glad to see him. Tell him, if he'll call on me, and
dawdle[407] over a dish of tea in an afternoon, I shall take it kind.'

The Reverend Mr. Smith, Vicar of Southill, a very respectable man, with
a very agreeable family, sent an invitation to us to drink tea. I
remarked Dr. Johnson's very respectful[408] politeness. Though always
fond of changing the scene, he said, 'We must have Mr. Dilly's leave. We
cannot go from your house, Sir, without your permission.' We all went,
and were well satisfied with our visit. I however remember nothing
particular, except a nice distinction which Dr. Johnson made with
respect to the power of memory, maintaining that forgetfulness was a
man's own fault[409]. 'To remember and to recollect (said he) are
different things. A man has not the power to recollect what is not in
his mind; but when a thing is in his mind he may remember it.' The
remark was occasioned by my leaning back on a chair, which a little
before I had perceived to be broken, and pleading forgetfulness as an
excuse. 'Sir, (said he,) its being broken was certainly in your

When I observed that a housebreaker was in general very timorous;
JOHNSON. 'No wonder, Sir; he is afraid of being shot getting _into_ a
house, or hanged when he has got _out_ of it.'

He told us, that he had in one day written six sheets of a translation
from the French[411], adding, 'I should be glad to see it now. I wish
that I had copies of all the pamphlets written against me, as it is said
Pope had. Had I known that I should make so much noise in the world, I
should have been at pains to collect them. I believe there is hardly a
day in which there is not something about me in the newspapers.'

On Monday, June 4, we all went to Luton-Hoe, to see Lord Bute's
magnificent seat[412], for which I had obtained a ticket. As we entered
the park, I talked in a high style of my old friendship with Lord
Mountstuart[413], and said, 'I shall probably be much at this place.'
The Sage, aware of human vicissitudes, gently checked me: 'Don't you be
too sure of that.' He made two or three peculiar observations; as when
shewn the botanical garden, 'Is not every garden a botanical garden?'
When told that there was a shrubbery to the extent of several miles:
'That is making a very foolish use of the ground; a little of it is very
well.' When it was proposed that we should walk on the pleasure-ground;
'Don't let us fatigue ourselves. Why should we walk there? Here's a fine
tree, let's get to the top of it.' But upon the whole, he was very much
pleased. He said, 'This is one of the places I do not regret having come
to see. It is a very stately place, indeed; in the house magnificence is
not sacrificed to convenience, nor convenience to magnificence. The
library is very splendid: the dignity of the rooms is very great; and
the quantity of pictures is beyond expectation, beyond hope.'

It happened without any previous concert, that we visited the seat of
Lord Bute upon the King's birthday; we dined and drank his Majesty's
health at an inn, in the village of Luton.

In the evening I put him in mind of his promise to favour me with a copy
of his celebrated Letter to the Earl of Chesterfield, and he was at last
pleased to comply with this earnest request, by dictating it to me from
his memory; for he believed that he himself had no copy[414]. There was
an animated glow in his countenance while he thus recalled his
high-minded indignation.

He laughed heartily at a ludicrous action in the Court of Session, in
which I was Counsel. The Society of _Procurators_, or Attornies,
entitled to practise in the inferiour courts at Edinburgh, had obtained
a royal charter, in which they had taken care to have their ancient
designation of Procurators changed into that of _Solicitors_, from a
notion, as they supposed, that it was more genteel[415]; and this new
title they displayed by a publick advertisement for a _General Meeting_
at their HALL.

It has been said, that the Scottish nation is not distinguished for
humour; and, indeed, what happened on this occasion may in some degree
justify the remark: for although this society had contrived to make
themselves a very prominent object for the ridicule of such as might
stoop to it, the only joke to which it gave rise, was the following
paragraph, sent to the newspaper called _The Caledonian Mercury_:--

'A correspondent informs us, that the Worshipful Society of _Chaldeans_,
_Cadies_[416], or _Running Stationers_ of this city are resolved, in
imitation, and encouraged by the singular success of their brethren, of
an equally respectable Society, to apply for a Charter of their
Privileges, particularly of the sole privilege of PROCURING, in the most
extensive sense of the word[417], exclusive of chairmen, porters,
penny-post men, and other _inferiour_ ranks; their brethren the R--Y--L
S--LL--RS, _alias_ P--C--RS, _before the_ INFERIOUR Courts of this City,
always excepted.

'Should the Worshipful Society be successful, they are farther resolved
not to be _puffed up_ thereby, but to demean themselves with more
equanimity and decency than their _R--y--l, learned_, and _very modest_
brethren above mentioned have done, upon their late dignification and

A majority of the members of the Society prosecuted Mr. Robertson, the
publisher of the paper, for damages; and the first judgement of the
whole Court very wisely dismissed the action: _Solventur risu tabulae,
tu missus abibis_[418]. But a new trial or review was granted upon a
petition, according to the forms in Scotland. This petition I was
engaged to answer, and Dr. Johnson with great alacrity furnished me this
evening with what follows:--

'All injury is either of the person, the fortune, or the fame. Now it is
a certain thing, it is proverbially known, that _a jest breaks no
bones_. They never have gained half-a-crown less in the whole profession
since this mischievous paragraph has appeared; and, as to their
reputation, What is their reputation but an instrument of getting money?
If, therefore, they have lost no money, the question upon reputation
may be answered by a very old position,--_De minimis non curat Praetor_.

'Whether there was, or was not, an _animus injuriandi_, is not worth
inquiring, if no _injuria_ can be proved. But the truth is, there was no
_animus injuriandi_. It was only an _animus irritandi[419]_, which,
happening to be exercised upon a _genus irritabile_, produced unexpected
violence of resentment. Their irritability arose only from an opinion of
their own importance, and their delight in their new exaltation. What
might have been borne by a _Procurator_ could not be borne by a
_Solicitor_. Your Lordships well know, that _honores mutant mores_.
Titles and dignities play strongly on the fancy. As a madman is apt to
think himself grown suddenly great, so he that grows suddenly great is
apt to borrow a little from the madman. To co-operate with their
resentment would be to promote their phrenzy; nor is it possible to
guess to what they might proceed, if to the new title of Solicitor,
should be added the elation of victory and triumph.

'We consider your Lordships as the protectors of our rights, and the
guardians of our virtues; but believe it not included in your high
office, that you should flatter our vices, or solace our vanity: and, as
vanity only dictates this prosecution, it is humbly hoped your Lordships
will dismiss it.

'If every attempt, however light or ludicrous, to lessen another's
reputation, is to be punished by a judicial sentence, what punishment
can be sufficiently severe for him who attempts to diminish the
reputation of the Supreme Court of Justice, by reclaiming upon a cause
already determined, without any change in the state of the question?
Does it not imply hopes that the Judges will change their opinion? Is
not uncertainty and inconstancy in the highest degree disreputable to a
Court? Does it not suppose, that the former judgement was temerarious or
negligent? Does it not lessen the confidence of the publick? Will it not
be said, that _jus est aut incognitum aut vagum?_ and will not the
consequence be drawn, _misera est servitus[420]?_ Will not the rules of
action be obscure? Will not he who knows himself wrong to-day, hope that
the Courts of Justice will think him right to-morrow? Surely, my Lords,
these are attempts of dangerous tendency, which the Solicitors, as men
versed in the law, should have foreseen and avoided. It was natural for
an ignorant printer to appeal from the Lord Ordinary; but from lawyers,
the descendants of lawyers, who have practised for three hundred years,
and have now raised themselves to a higher denomination, it might be
expected, that they should know the reverence due to a judicial
determination; and, having been once dismissed, should sit down
in silence.'

I am ashamed to mention, that the Court, by a plurality of voices,
without having a single additional circumstance before them, reversed
their own judgement, made a serious matter of this dull and foolish
joke, and adjudged Mr. Robertson to pay to the Society five pounds
(sterling money) and costs of suit. The decision will seem strange to
English lawyers.

On Tuesday, June 5, Johnson was to return to London. He was very
pleasant at breakfast; I mentioned a friend of mine having resolved
never to marry a pretty woman. JOHNSON. 'Sir, it is a very foolish
resolution to resolve not to marry a pretty woman. Beauty is of itself
very estimable. No, Sir, I would prefer a pretty woman, unless there are
objections to her. A pretty woman may be foolish; a pretty woman may be
wicked; a pretty woman may not like me. But there is no such danger in
marrying a pretty woman as is apprehended: she will not be persecuted if
she does not invite persecution. A pretty woman, if she has a mind to be
wicked, can find a readier way than another; and that is all.'

I accompanied him in Mr. Dilly's chaise to Shefford, where talking of
Lord Bute's never going to Scotland, he said, 'As an Englishman, I
should wish all the Scotch gentlemen should be educated in England;
Scotland would become a province; they would spend all their rents in
England.' This is a subject of much consequence, and much delicacy. The
advantage of an English education is unquestionably very great to Scotch
gentlemen of talents and ambition; and regular visits to Scotland, and
perhaps other means, might be effectually used to prevent them from
being totally estranged from their native country, any more than a
Cumberland or Northumberland gentleman who has been educated in the
South of England. I own, indeed, that it is no small misfortune for
Scotch gentlemen, who have neither talents nor ambition, to be educated
in England, where they may be perhaps distinguished only by a nick-name,
lavish their fortune in giving expensive entertainments to those who
laugh at them, and saunter about as mere idle insignificant hangers on
even upon the foolish great; when if they had been judiciously brought
up at home, they might have been comfortable and creditable members
of society.

At Shefford I had another affectionate parting from my revered friend,
who was taken up by the Bedford coach and carried to the metropolis. I
went with Messieurs Dilly, to see some friends at Bedford; dined with
the officers of the militia of the county, and next day proceeded on
my journey.



'How welcome your account of yourself and your invitation to your new
house was to me, I need not tell you, who consider our friendship not
only as formed by choice, but as matured by time. We have been now long
enough acquainted to have many images in common, and therefore to have a
source of conversation which neither the learning nor the wit of a new
companion can supply.

'My _Lives_ are now published; and if you will tell me whither I shall
send them, that they may come to you, I will take care that you shall
not be without them.

'You will, perhaps, be glad to hear, that Mrs. Thrale is disencumbered
of her brewhouse; and that it seemed to the purchaser so far from an
evil, that he was content to give for it an hundred and thirty-five
thousand pounds. Is the nation ruined?

'Please to make my respectful compliments to Lady Rothes, and keep me in
the memory of all the little dear family, particularly pretty Mrs.

'I am, Sir,

'Your affectionate humble servant, 'SAM. JOHNSON.'

'Bolt-Court, June 16, 1781.'

Johnson's charity to the poor was uniform and extensive, both from
inclination and principle. He not only bestowed liberally out of his own
purse, but what is more difficult as well as rare, would beg from
others, when he had proper objects in view. This he did judiciously as
well as humanely. Mr. Philip Metcalfe[422] tells me, that when he has
asked him for some money for persons in distress, and Mr. Metcalfe has
offered what Johnson thought too much, he insisted on taking less,
saying 'No, no, Sir; we must not _pamper_ them.'

I am indebted to Mr. Malone, one of Sir Joshua Reynolds's executors, for
the following note, which was found among his papers after his death,
and which, we may presume, his unaffected modesty prevented him from
communicating to me with the other letters from Dr. Johnson with which
he was pleased to furnish me. However slight in itself, as it does
honour to that illustrious painter, and most amiable man, I am happy to
introduce it.


'It was not before yesterday that I received your splendid benefaction.
To a hand so liberal in distributing, I hope nobody will envy the power
of acquiring.

'I am, dear Sir,

Your obliged and most humble servant, SAM, JOHNSON. June 23, 1781.'

'To THOMAS ASTLE, Esq.[423]


'I am ashamed that you have been forced to call so often for your books,
but it has been by no fault on either side. They have never been out of
my hands, nor have I ever been at home without seeing you; for to see a
man so skilful in the antiquities of my country, is an opportunity of
improvement not willingly to be missed.

'Your notes on Alfred[424] appear to me very judicious and accurate, but
they are too few. Many things familiar to you, are unknown to me, and to
most others; and you must not think too favourably of your readers: by
supposing them knowing, you will leave them ignorant. Measure of land,
and value of money, it is of great importance to state with care. Had
the Saxons any gold coin?

'I have much curiosity after the manners and transactions of the middle
ages, but have wanted either diligence or opportunity, or both. You,
Sir, have great opportunities, and I wish you both diligence
and success.

'I am, Sir, &c. SAM. JOHNSON. July 17, 1781.'

The following curious anecdote I insert in Dr. Burney's own words:--

'Dr. Burney related to Dr. Johnson the partiality which his writings had
excited in a friend of Dr. Burney's, the late Mr. Bewley, well known in
Norfolk by the name of the _Philosopher of Massingham_[425]: who, from
the _Ramblers_ and Plan of his _Dictionary_, and long before the
authour's fame was established by the _Dictionary_ itself, or any other
work, had conceived such a reverence for him, that he urgently begged
Dr. Burney to give him the cover of the first letter he had received
from him, as a relick of so estimable a writer. This was in 1755. In
1760[426], when Dr. Burney visited Dr. Johnson at the Temple in London,
where he had then Chambers, he happened to arrive there before he was
up; and being shewn into the room where he was to breakfast, finding
himself alone, he examined the contents of the apartment, to try whether
he could undiscovered steal any thing to send to his friend Bewley, as
another relick of the admirable Dr. Johnson. But finding nothing better
to his purpose, he cut some bristles off his hearth-broom, and enclosed
them in a letter to his country enthusiast, who received them with due
reverence. The Doctor was so sensible of the honour done him by a man of
genius and science, to whom he was an utter stranger, that he said to
Dr. Burney, "Sir, there is no man possessed of the smallest portion of
modesty, but must be flattered with the admiration of such a man. I'll
give him a set of my _Lives_, if he will do me the honour to accept of
them[427]." In this he kept his word; and Dr. Burney had not only the
pleasure of gratifying his friend with a present more worthy of his
acceptance than the segment from the hearth-broom, but soon after of
introducing him to Dr. Johnson himself in Bolt-court, with whom he had
the satisfaction of conversing a considerable time, not a fortnight
before his death; which happened in St. Martin's-street, during his
visit to Dr. Burney, in the house where the great Sir Isaac Newton had
lived and died before.'

In one of his little memorandum-books is the following minute:--

'August 9, 3 P.M., aetat. 72, in the summer-house at Streatham. After
innumerable resolutions formed and neglected, I have retired hither, to
plan a life of greater diligence, in hope that I may yet be useful, and
be daily better prepared to appear before my Creator and my Judge, from
whose infinite mercy I humbly call for assistance and support.

'My purpose is,

'To pass eight hours every day in some serious employment.

'Having prayed, I purpose to employ the next six weeks upon the Italian
language, for my settled study.'

How venerably pious does he appear in these moments of solitude, and how
spirited are his resolutions for the improvement of his mind, even in
elegant literature, at a very advanced period of life, and when
afflicted with many complaints[428].

In autumn he went to Oxford, Birmingham, Lichfield, and Ashbourne, for
which very good reasons might be given in the conjectural yet positive
manner of writers, who are proud to account for every event which they
relate[429]. He himself, however, says,

'The motives of my journey I hardly know; I omitted it last year, and am
not willing to miss it again[430].'

But some good considerations arise, amongst which is the kindly
recollection of Mr. Hector, surgeon at Birmingham:

'Hector is likewise an old friend, the only companion of my childhood
that passed through the school with me. We have always loved one
another; perhaps we may be made better by some serious conversation, of
which however I have no distinct hope.'

He says too,

'At Lichfield, my native place, I hope to shew a good example by
frequent attendance on publick worship.'

My correspondence with him during the rest of this year was I know not
why very scanty, and all on my side. I wrote him one letter to introduce
Mr. Sinclair (now Sir John), the member for Caithness, to his
acquaintance; and informed him in another that my wife had again been
affected with alarming symptoms of illness.

1782: AETAT. 73.--In 1782, his complaints increased, and the history of
his life this year, is little more than a mournful recital of the
variations of his illness, in the midst of which, however, it will
appear from his letters, that the powers of his mind were in no
degree impaired.



'I sit down to answer your letter on the same day in which I received
it, and am pleased that my first letter of the year is to you. No man
ought to be at ease while he knows himself in the wrong; and I have not
satisfied myself with my long silence. The letter relating to Mr.
Sinclair, however, was, I believe, never brought.

'My health has been tottering this last year; and I can give no very
laudable account of my time. I am always hoping to do better than I have
ever hitherto done.

'My journey to Ashbourne and Staffordshire was not pleasant; for what
enjoyment has a sick man visiting the sick[431]?--Shall we ever have
another frolick like our journey to the Hebrides?

'I hope that dear Mrs. Boswell will surmount her complaints; in losing
her you would lose your anchor, and be tost, without stability, by the
waves of life[432]. I wish both her and you very many years, and
very happy.

'For some months past I have been so withdrawn from the world, that I
can send you nothing particular. All your friends, however, are well,
and will be glad of your return to London.

'I am, dear Sir,

'Yours most affectionately,


'January 5, 1782.'

At a time when he was less able than he had once been to sustain a
shock, he was suddenly deprived of Mr. Levett, which event he thus
communicated to Dr. Lawrence:--


'Our old friend, Mr. Levett, who was last night eminently cheerful, died
this morning. The man who lay in the same room, hearing an uncommon
noise, got up and tried to make him speak, but without effect. He then
called Mr. Holder, the apothecary, who, though when he came he thought
him dead, opened a vein, but could draw no blood. So has ended the long
life of a very useful and very blameless man.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'Jan. 17, 1782.'

In one of his memorandum-books in my possession, is the following

'January 20, Sunday. Robert Levett was buried in the church-yard of
Bridewell, between one and two in the afternoon. He died on Thursday 17,
about seven in the morning, by an instantaneous death. He was an old and
faithful friend; I have known him from about 46. _Commendavi_. May GOD
have mercy on him. May he have mercy on me.'

Such was Johnson's affectionate regard for Levett[433], that he honoured
his memory with the following pathetick verses:--

     'Condemd'd to Hope's delusive mine,
        As on we toil from day to day,
      By sudden blast or slow decline
        Our social comforts drop away.

      Well try'd through many a varying year,
        See LEVETT to the grave descend;
      Officious, innocent, sincere,
        Of every friendless name the friend[434].

      Yet still he fills affection's eye,
        Obscurely wise[435], and coarsely kind;
      Nor, letter'd arrogance[436], deny
        Thy praise to merit unrefin'd.

      When fainting Nature call'd for aid,
        And hov'ring Death prepar'd the blow,
      His vigorous remedy display'd
        The power of art without the show.

      In Misery's darkest caverns known,
        His ready help was ever nigh,
      Where hopeless Anguish pour'd his groan,
        And lonely want retir'd to die[437].

      No summons mock'd by chill delay,
        No petty gains disdain'd by pride;
      The modest wants of every day
        The toil of every day supply'd.

      His virtues walk'd their narrow round,
        Nor made a pause, nor left a void;
      And sure the Eternal Master found
        His single talent well employ'd.

      The busy day, the peaceful night[438],
        Unfelt, uncounted, glided by;
      His frame was firm, his powers were bright,
        Though now his eightieth year was nigh[439].

      Then, with no throbs of fiery pain,
        No cold gradations of decay,
      Death broke at once the vital chain,
        And freed his soul the nearest way.'

In one of Johnson's registers of this year, there occurs the following
curious passage:--

'Jan. 20[440]. The Ministry is dissolved. I prayed with Francis and gave

It has been the subject of discussion, whether there are two distinct
particulars mentioned here? or that we are to understand the giving of
thanks to be in consequence of the dissolution of the Ministry? In
support of the last of these conjectures may be urged his mean opinion
of that Ministry, which has frequently appeared in the course of this
work[442]; and it is strongly confirmed by what he said on the subject
to Mr. Seward:--'I am glad the Ministry is removed. Such a bunch of
imbecility never disgraced a country[443]. If they sent a messenger into
the City to take up a printer, the messenger was taken up instead of
the printer, and committed by the sitting Alderman[444]. If they sent
one army to the relief of another, the first army was defeated and taken
before the second arrived[445]. I will not say that what they did was
always wrong; but it was always done at a wrong time[446].'



'Mrs. Williams shewed me your kind letter. This little habitation is now
but a melancholy place, clouded with the gloom of disease and death. Of
the four inmates, one has been suddenly snatched away; two are oppressed
by very afflictive and dangerous illness; and I tried yesterday to gain
some relief by a third bleeding, from a disorder which has for some time
distressed me, and I think myself to-day much better.

'I am glad, dear Madam, to hear that you are so far recovered as to go
to Bath. Let me once more entreat you to stay till your health is not
only obtained, but confirmed. Your fortune is such as that no moderate
expence deserves your care; and you have a husband, who, I believe, does
not regard it. Stay, therefore, till you are quite well. I am, for my
part, very much deserted; but complaint is useless. I hope GOD will
bless you, and I desire you to form the same wish for me.

'I am, dear Madam,

'Your most humble servant,


'Feb. 4, 1782.'



'I have for many weeks been so much out of order, that I have gone out
only in a coach to Mrs. Thrale's, where I can use all the freedom that
sickness requires. Do not, therefore, take it amiss, that I am not with
you and Dr. Farmer. I hope hereafter to see you often.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'Feb. 27, 1782.'



'I hope I grow better, and shall soon be able to enjoy the kindness of
my friends. I think this wild adherence to Chatterton[447] more
unaccountable than the obstinate defence of Ossian. In Ossian there is a
national pride, which may be forgiven, though it cannot be applauded. In
Chatterton there is nothing but the resolution to say again what has
once been said.

'I am, Sir,

'Your humble servant,


'March 7, 1782.'

These short letters shew the regard which Dr. Johnson entertained for
Mr. Malone, who the more he is known is the more highly valued. It is
much to be regretted that Johnson was prevented from sharing the elegant
hospitality of that gentleman's table, at which he would in every
respect have been fully gratified. Mr. Malone, who has so ably
succeeded him as an Editor of Shakspeare, has, in his Preface, done
great and just honour to Johnson's memory.



'I went away from Lichfield ill, and have had a troublesome time with my
breath; for some weeks I have been disordered by a cold, of which I
could not get the violence abated, till I had been let blood three
times. I have not, however, been so bad but that I could have written,
and am sorry that I neglected it.

'My dwelling is but melancholy; both Williams, and Desmoulins, and
myself, are very sickly: Frank is not well; and poor Levett died in his
bed the other day, by a sudden stroke; I suppose not one minute passed
between health and death; so uncertain are human things.

'Such is the appearance of the world about me; I hope your scenes are
more cheerful. But whatever befalls us, though it is wise to be serious,
it is useless and foolish, and perhaps sinful, to be gloomy. Let us,
therefore, keep ourselves as easy as we can; though the loss of friends
will be felt, and poor Levett had been a faithful adherent for
thirty years.

'Forgive me, my dear love, the omission of writing; I hope to mend that
and my other faults. Let me have your prayers.

'Make my compliments to Mrs. Cobb, and Miss Adey, and Mr. Pearson, and
the whole company of my friends.

I am, my dear,

'Your most humble servant,


'London, March 2, 1782.'



'My last was but a dull letter, and I know not that this will be much
more cheerful; I am, however, willing to write, because you are desirous
to hear from me.

'My disorder has now begun its ninth week, for it is not yet over. I was
last Thursday blooded for the fourth time, and have since found myself
much relieved, but I am very tender and easily hurt; so that since we
parted I have had but little comfort, but I hope that the spring will
recover me; and that in the summer I shall see Lichfield again, for I
will not delay my visit another year to the end of autumn.

'I have, by advertising, found poor Mr. Levett's brothers in Yorkshire,
who will take the little he has left: it is but little, yet it will be
welcome, for I believe they are of very low condition.

'To be sick, and to see nothing but sickness and death, is but a gloomy
state; but I hope better times, even in this world, will come, and
whatever this world may withhold or give, we shall be happy in a better
state. Pray for me, my dear Lucy.

'Make my compliments to Mrs. Cobb, and Miss Adey, and my old friend
Hetty Baily, and to all the Lichfield ladies.

'I am, dear Madam,

'Yours, affectionately,


'Bolt-court, Fleet-street,

March 19, 1782.'

On the day on which this letter was written, he thus feelingly mentions
his respected friend and physician, Dr. Lawrence:--

'Poor Lawrence has almost lost the sense of hearing; and I have lost the
conversation of a learned, intelligent, and communicative companion, and
a friend whom long familiarity has much endeared. Lawrence is one of the
best men whom I have known.--_Nostrum omnium miserere Deus_[448].'

It was Dr. Johnson's custom when he wrote to Dr. Lawrence concerning his
own health, to use the Latin language[449]. I have been favoured by Miss
Lawrence with one of these letters as a specimen:--

'T. LAWRENCIO, _Medico, S_.

'NOVUM _frigus, nova tussis, nova spirandi difficultas, novam sanguinis
missionem suadent, quam tamen te inconsulto nolim fieri. Ad te venire
vix possum, nec est cur ad me venias. Licere vel non licere uno verbo
dicendum est; catera mihi et Holdero[450] reliqueris. Si per te licet,
imperatur[451] nuncio Holderum ad me deducere.

'Maiis Calendis, 1782.

'Postquàm tu discesseris, quò me vertam[452]?'_



'It is now long since we saw one another; and whatever has been the
reason neither you have written to me, nor I to you. To let friendship
die away by negligence and silence, is certainly not wise. It is
voluntarily to throw away one of the greatest comforts of this weary
pilgrimage, of which when it is, as it must be, taken finally away, he
that travels on alone, will wonder how his esteem could be so little. Do
not forget me; you see that I do not forget you. It is pleasing in the
silence of solitude to think, that there is one at least, however
distant, of whose benevolence there is little doubt, and whom there is
yet hope of seeing again[454].

'Of my life, from the time we parted, the history is mournful. The
spring of last year deprived me of Thrale, a man whose eye for fifteen
years had scarcely been turned upon me but with respect or
tenderness[455]; for such another friend, the general course of human
things will not suffer man to hope. I passed the summer at Streatham,
but there was no Thrale; and having idled away the summer with a weakly
body and neglected mind, I made a journey to Staffordshire on the edge
of winter. The season was dreary, I was sickly, and found the friends
sickly whom I went to see. After a sorrowful sojourn, I returned to a
habitation possessed for the present by two sick women, where my dear
old friend, Mr. Levett, to whom as he used to tell me, I owe your
acquaintance[456], died a few weeks ago, suddenly in his bed; there
passed not, I believe, a minute between health and death. At night, as
at Mrs. Thrale's I was musing in my chamber, I thought with uncommon
earnestness, that however I might alter my mode of life, or
whithersoever I might remove[457], I would endeavour to retain Levett
about me; in the morning my servant brought me word that Levett was
called to another state, a state for which, I think, he was not
unprepared, for he was very useful to the poor. How much soever I valued
him, I now wish that I had valued him more[458].

'I have myself been ill more than eight weeks of a disorder, from which
at the expence of about fifty ounces of blood, I hope I am now

'You, dear Sir, have, I hope, a more cheerful scene; you see George fond
of his book, and the pretty misses airy and lively, with my own little
Jenny[459] equal to the best[460]: and in whatever can contribute to
your quiet or pleasure, you have Lady Rothes ready to concur. May
whatever you enjoy of good be encreased, and whatever you suffer of evil
be diminished.

     I am, dear Sir,
          Your humble servant,
              'SAM. JOHNSON.'

'Bolt-court, Fleet-street,
  March 20, 1782.'



'I hope I do not very grossly flatter myself to imagine that you and
dear Mrs. Careless[462] will be glad to hear some account of me. I
performed the journey to London with very little inconvenience, and came
safe to my habitation, where I found nothing but ill health, and, of
consequence, very little cheerfulness. I then went to visit a little way
into the country, where I got a complaint by a cold which has hung eight
weeks upon me, and from which I am, at the expence of fifty ounces of
blood, not yet free. I am afraid I must once more owe my recovery to
warm weather, which seems to make no advances towards us.

'Such is my health, which will, I hope, soon grow better. In other
respects I have no reason to complain. I know not that I have written
any thing more generally commended than the _Lives of the Poets_; and
have found the world willing enough to caress me, if my health had
invited me to be in much company; but this season I have been almost
wholly employed in nursing myself.

'When summer comes I hope to see you again, and will not put off my
visit to the end of the year. I have lived so long in London, that I did
not remember the difference of seasons.

'Your health, when I saw you, was much improved. You will be prudent
enough not to put it in danger. I hope, when we meet again, we shall all
congratulate each other upon fair prospects of longer life; though what
are the pleasures of the longest life, when placed in comparison with a
happy death?

'I am, dear Sir,

'Yours most affectionately,


'London, March 21, 1782.'


[Without a date, but supposed to be about this time.][463]


'That you and dear Mrs. Careless should have care or curiosity about my
health, gives me that pleasure which every man feels from finding
himself not forgotten. In age we feel again that love of our native
place and our early friends, which in the bustle or amusements of middle
life were overborne and suspended. You and I should now naturally cling
to one another: we have outlived most of those who could pretend to
rival us in each other's kindness. In our walk through life we have
dropped our companions, and are now to pick up such as chance may offer
us, or to travel on alone[464]. You, indeed, have a sister, with whom
you can divide the day: I have no natural friend left; but Providence
has been pleased to preserve me from neglect; I have not wanted such
alleviations of life as friendship could supply. My health has been,
from my twentieth year, such as has seldom afforded me a single day of
ease[465]; but it is at least not worse: and I sometimes make myself
believe that it is better. My disorders are, however, still sufficiently

'I think of seeing Staffordshire again this autumn, and intend to find
my way through Birmingham, where I hope to see you and dear Mrs.
Careless well. I am Sir,

'Your affectionate friend,


I wrote to him at different dates; regretted that I could not come to
London this spring, but hoped we should meet somewhere in the summer;
mentioned the state of my affairs, and suggested hopes of some
preferment; informed him, that as _The Beauties of Johnson_ had been
published in London, some obscure scribbler had published at Edinburgh
what he called _The deformities of Johnson_.



'The pleasure which we used to receive from each other on Good-Friday
and Easter-day[466], we must be this year content to miss. Let us,
however, pray for each other, and hope to see one another yet from time
to time with mutual delight. My disorder has been a cold, which impeded
the organs of respiration, and kept me many weeks in a state of great
uneasiness; but by repeated phlebotomy it is now relieved; and next to
the recovery of Mrs. Boswell, I flatter myself, that you will rejoice
at mine.

'What we shall do in the summer it is yet too early to consider. You
want to know what you shall do now; I do not think this time of bustle
and confusion[467] likely to produce any advantage to you. Every man has
those to reward and gratify who have contributed to his advancement. To
come hither with such expectations at the expence of borrowed money,
which, I find, you know not where to borrow, can hardly be considered as
prudent. I am sorry to find, what your solicitation seems to imply, that
you have already gone the whole length of your credit. This is to set
the quiet of your whole life at hazard. If you anticipate your
inheritance, you can at last inherit nothing; all that you receive must
pay for the past. You must get a place, or pine in penury, with the
empty name of a great estate. Poverty, my dear friend, is so great an
evil, and pregnant with so much temptation, and so much misery, that I
cannot but earnestly enjoin you to avoid it[468]. Live on what you have;
live if you can on less; do not borrow either for vanity or pleasure;
the vanity will end in shame, and the pleasure in regret: stay therefore
at home, till you have saved money for your journey hither.

_The Beauties of Johnson_ are said to have got money to the collector;
if the _Deformities_ have the same success, I shall be still a more
extensive benefactor.

'Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell, who is, I hope, reconciled to me;
and to the young people whom I never have offended.

'You never told me the success of your plea against the Solicitors[469].

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your most affectionate,


'London, March 28, 1782.'

Notwithstanding his afflicted state of body[470] and mind this year, the
following correspondence affords a proof not only of his benevolence and
conscientious readiness to relieve a good man from errour, but by his
cloathing one of the sentiments in his _Rambler_ in different language,
not inferiour to that of the original, shews his extraordinary command
of clear and forcible expression.

A clergyman at Bath wrote to him, that in _The Morning Chronicle_, a
passage in _The Beauties of Johnson_[471], article DEATH, had been
pointed out as supposed by some readers to recommend suicide, the words
being, 'To die is the fate of man; but to die with lingering anguish is
generally his folly;' and respectfully suggesting to him, that such an
erroneous notion of any sentence in the writings of an acknowledged
friend of religion and virtue, should not pass uncontradicted.

Johnson thus answered the clergyman's letter:--



'Being now[472] in the country in a state of recovery, as I hope, from a
very oppressive disorder, I cannot neglect the acknowledgement of your
Christian letter. The book called _The Beauties of Johnson_ is the
production of I know not whom: I never saw it but by casual inspection,
and considered myself as utterly disengaged from its consequences. Of
the passage you mention, I remember some notice in some paper; but
knowing that it must be misrepresented, I thought of it no more, nor do
I know where to find it in my own books. I am accustomed to think little
of newspapers; but an opinion so weighty and serious as yours has
determined me to do, what I should, without your seasonable admonition,
have omitted; and I will direct my thought to be shewn in its true
state[473]. If I could find the passage, I would direct you to it. I
suppose the tenour is this:--'Acute diseases are the immediate and
inevitable strokes of Heaven; but of them the pain is short, and the
conclusion speedy; chronical disorders, by which we are suspended in
tedious torture between life and death, are commonly the effect of our
own misconduct and intemperance. To die, &c.'--This, Sir, you see is
all true and all blameless. I hope, some time in the next week, to have
all rectified. My health has been lately much shaken: if you favour me
with any answer, it will be a comfort to me to know that I have
your prayers.

'I am, &c.,


'May 15, 1782.'

This letter, as might be expected, had its full effect, and the
clergyman acknowledged it in grateful and pious terms[474].

The following letters require no extracts from mine to introduce them:--



'The earnestness and tenderness of your letter is such, that I cannot
think myself shewing it more respect than it claims by sitting down to
answer it the day on which I received it.

'This year has afflicted me with a very irksome and severe disorder. My
respiration has been much impeded, and much blood has been taken away. I
am now harrassed by a catarrhous cough, from which my purpose is to seek
relief by change of air; and I am, therefore, preparing to go to

'Whether I did right in dissuading you from coming to London this
spring, I will not determine. You have not lost much by missing my
company; I have scarcely been well for a single week. I might have
received comfort from your kindness; but you would have seen me
afflicted, and, perhaps, found me peevish. Whatever might have been your
pleasure or mine, I know not how I could have honestly advised you to
come hither with borrowed money. Do not accustom yourself to consider
debt only as an inconvenience; you will find it a calamity. Poverty
takes away so many means of doing good, and produces so much inability
to resist evil, both natural and moral, that it is by all virtuous means
to be avoided. Consider a man whose fortune is very narrow; whatever be
his rank by birth, or whatever his reputation by intellectual
excellence, what good can he do? or what evil can he prevent? That he
cannot help the needy is evident; he has nothing to spare. But, perhaps,
his advice or admonition may be useful. His poverty will destroy his
influence: many more can find that he is poor, than that he is wise; and
few will reverence the understanding that is of so little advantage to
its owner. I say nothing of the personal wretched-ness of a debtor,
which, however, has passed into a proverb[476]. Of riches, it is not
necessary to write the praise[477]. Let it, however, be remembered, that
he who has money to spare, has it always in his power to benefit others;
and of such power a good man must always be desirous.

'I am pleased with your account of Easter[478]. We shall meet, I hope in
Autumn, both well and both cheerful; and part each the better for the
other's company.

'Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell, and to the young charmers.

'I am, &c.

'SAM. JOHNSON.' 'London, June 3, 1782.'

'To MR. PERKINS[479].


I am much pleased that you are going a very long journey, which may by
proper conduct restore your health and prolong your life.

'Observe these rules:

1. Turn all care out of your head as soon as you mount the chaise.

2. Do not think about frugality; your health is worth more than it can

3. Do not continue any day's journey to fatigue.

4. Take now and then a day's rest.

5. Get a smart sea-sickness, if you can.

6. Cast away all anxiety, and keep your mind easy.

'This last direction is the principal; with an unquiet mind, neither
exercise, nor diet, nor physick, can be of much use.

'I wish you, dear Sir, a prosperous journey, and a happy recovery.

I am, dear Sir,

'Your most affectionate, humble servant,


'July 28, 1782.'



'Being uncertain whether I should have any call this autumn into the
country, I did not immediately answer your kind letter. I have no call;
but if you desire to meet me at Ashbourne, I believe I can come thither;
if you had rather come to London, I can stay at Streatham; take
your choice.

'This year has been very heavy. From the middle of January to the middle
of June I was battered by one disorder after another! I am now very much
recovered, and hope still to be better. What happiness it is that Mrs.
Boswell has escaped.

'My _Lives_ are reprinting, and I have forgotten the authour of Gray's
character[480]: write immediately, and it may be perhaps yet inserted.

'Of London or Ashbourne you have your free choice; at any place I shall
be glad to see you. I am, dear Sir,

'Yours &c.


'Aug. 24, 1782.'

On the 3Oth of August, I informed him that my honoured father had died
that morning; a complaint under which he had long laboured having
suddenly come to a crisis, while I was upon a visit at the seat of Sir
Charles Preston, from whence I had hastened the day before, upon
receiving a letter by express.



'I have struggled through this year with so much infirmity of body, and
such strong impressions of the fragility of life, that death, whenever
it appears, fills me with melancholy; and I cannot hear without emotion,
of the removal of any one, whom I have known, into another state.

'Your father's death had every circumstance that could enable you to
bear it; it was at a mature age, and it was expected; and as his general
life had been pious, his thoughts had doubtless for many years past been
turned upon eternity. That you did not find him sensible must doubtless
grieve you; his disposition towards you was undoubtedly that of a kind,
though not of a fond father. Kindness, at least actual, is in our power,
but fondness is not; and if by negligence or imprudence you had
extinguished his fondness, he could not at will rekindle it. Nothing
then remained between you but mutual forgiveness of each other's faults,
and mutual desire of each other's happiness.

'I shall long to know his final disposition of his fortune[481].

'You, dear Sir, have now a new station, and have therefore new cares,
and new employments. Life, as Cowley seems to say, ought to resemble a
well-ordered poem[482]; of which one rule generally received is, that
the exordium should be simple, and should promise little. Begin your new
course of life with the least show, and the least expence possible; you
may at pleasure encrease both, but you cannot easily diminish them. Do
not think your estate your own, while any man can call upon you for
money which you cannot pay; therefore, begin with timorous parsimony.
Let it be your first care not to be in any man's debt.

'When the thoughts are extended to a future state, the present life
seems hardly worthy of all those principles of conduct, and maxims of
prudence, which one generation of men has transmitted to another; but
upon a closer view, when it is perceived how much evil is produced, and
how much good is impeded by embarrassment and distress, and how little
room the expedients of poverty leave for the exercise of virtue, it
grows manifest that the boundless importance of the next life enforces
some attention to the interests of this.

'Be kind to the old servants, and secure the kindness of the agents and
factors; do not disgust them by asperity, or unwelcome gaiety, or
apparent suspicion. From them you must learn the real state of your
affairs, the characters of your tenants, and the value of your

'Make my compliments to Mrs. Boswell; I think her expectations from air
and exercise are the best that she can form. I hope she will live long
and happily.

'I forget whether I told you that Rasay[484] has been here; we dined
cheerfully together. I entertained lately a young gentleman from

'I received your letters only this morning. I am, dear Sir,

'Yours &c.


'London, Sept. 7, 1782.'

In answer to my next letter, I received one from him, dissuading me from
hastening to him as I had proposed[486]; what is proper for publication
is the following paragraph, equally just and tender:--

'One expence, however, I would not have you to spare: let nothing be
omitted that can preserve Mrs. Boswell, though it should be necessary to
transplant her for a time into a softer climate. She is the prop and
stay of your life. How much must your children suffer by losing her.'

My wife was now so much convinced of his sincere friendship for me, and
regard for her, that, without any suggestion on my part, she wrote him a
very polite and grateful letter:--



'I have not often received so much pleasure as from your invitation to
Auchinleck. The journey thither and back is, indeed, too great for the
latter part of the year; but if my health were fully recovered, I would
suffer no little heat and cold, nor a wet or a rough road to keep me
from you. I am, indeed, not without hope of seeing Auchinleck again; but
to make it a pleasant place I must see its lady well, and brisk, and
airy. For my sake, therefore, among many greater reasons, take care,
dear Madam, of your health, spare no expence, and want no attendance
that can procure ease, or preserve it. Be very careful to keep your mind
quiet; and do not think it too much to give an account of your recovery
to, Madam,

'Yours, &c.


'London, Sept. 7, 1782.'



'Having passed almost this whole year in a succession of disorders, I
went in October to Brighthelmston, whither I came in a state of so much
weakness, that I rested four times in walking between the inn and the
lodging. By physick and abstinence I grew better, and am now reasonably
easy, though at a great distance from health[487]. I am afraid, however,
that health begins, after seventy, and long before, to have a meaning
different from that which it had at thirty. But it is culpable to murmur
at the established order of the creation, as it is vain to oppose it. He
that lives must grow old; and he that would rather grow old than die,
has GOD to thank for the infirmities of old age[488].

'At your long silence I am rather angry. You do not, since now you are
the head of your house, think it worth your while to try whether you or
your friend can live longer without writing[489], nor suspect that after
so many years of friendship, that when I do not write to you, I forget
you. Put all such useless jealousies out of your head, and disdain to
regulate your own practice by the practice of another, or by any other
principle than the desire of doing right.

'Your oeconomy, I suppose, begins now to be settled; your expences are
adjusted to your revenue, and all your people in their proper places.
Resolve not to be poor: whatever you have, spend less. Poverty is a
great enemy to human happiness; it certainly destroys liberty, and it
makes some virtues impracticable, and others extremely difficult.

'Let me know the history of your life, since your accession to your
estate. How many houses, how many cows, how much land in your own hand,
and what bargains you make with your tenants.

       *       *       *       *       *

'Of my _Lives of the Poets_, they have printed a new edition in octavo,
I hear, of three thousand. Did I give a set to Lord Hailes? If I did
not, I will do it out of these. What did you make of all your copy[490]?

'Mrs. Thrale and the three Misses[491] are now for the winter in
Argyll-street. Sir Joshua Reynolds has been out of order, but is well
again; and I am, dear Sir,

'Your affectionate humble servant,


'London, Dec. 7, 1782.'


'Edinburgh, Dec. 20, 1782.


'I was made happy by your kind letter, which gave us the agreeable hopes
of seeing you in Scotland again.

'I am much flattered by the concern you are pleased to take in my
recovery. I am better, and hope to have it in my power to convince you
by my attention of how much consequence I esteem your health to the
world and to myself. I remain, Sir, with grateful respect,

'Your obliged and obedient servant,


The death of Mr. Thrale had made a very material alteration with respect
to Johnson's reception in that family. The manly authority of the
husband no longer curbed the lively exuberance of the lady; and as her
vanity had been fully gratified, by having the Colossus of Literature
attached to her for many years, she gradually became less assiduous to
please him. Whether her attachment to him was already divided by another
object, I am unable to ascertain; but it is plain that Johnson's
penetration was alive to her neglect or forced attention; for on the eth
of October this year, we find him making a 'parting use of the
library[492]' at Streatham, and pronouncing a prayer, which he composed
on leaving Mr. Thrale's family[493]:--

'Almighty God, Father of all mercy, help me by thy grace, that I may,
with humble and sincere thankfulness, remember the comforts and
conveniences which I have enjoyed at this place; and that I may resign
them with holy submission, equally trusting in thy protection when thou
givest, and when thou takest away. Have mercy upon me, Lord, have
mercy upon me.

'To thy fatherly protection, O Lord, I commend this family. Bless,
guide, and defend them, that they may so pass through this world, as
finally to enjoy in thy presence everlasting happiness, for Jesus
Christ's sake. Amen[494].'

One cannot read this prayer, without some emotions not very favourable
to the lady whose conduct occasioned it[495].

In one of his memorandum-books I find, 'Sunday, went to church at
Streatham. _Templo valedixi cum osculo_[496].'

He met Mr. Philip Metcalfe[497] often at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, and
other places, and was a good deal with him at Brighthelmston[498] this
autumn, being pleased at once with his excellent table and animated
conversation. Mr. Metcalfe shewed him great respect, and sent him a note
that he might have the use of his carriage whenever he pleased. Johnson
(3d October, 1782) returned this polite answer:--'Mr. Johnson is very
much obliged by the kind offer of the carriage, but he has no desire of
using Mr. Metcalfe's carriage, except when he can have the pleasure of
Mr. Metcalfe's company.' Mr. Metcalfe could not but be highly pleased
that his company was thus valued by Johnson, and he frequently attended
him in airings. They also went together to Chichester[499], and they
visited Petworth, and Cowdry, the venerable seat of the Lords Montacute.
'Sir, (said Johnson,) I should like to stay here four-and-twenty hours.
We see here how our ancestors lived.'

That his curiosity was still unabated, appears from two letters to Mr.
John Nichols, of the 10th and 20th[500] of October this year. In one he
says, 'I have looked into your _Anecdotes_, and you will hardly thank a
lover of literary history for telling you, that he has been much
informed and gratified. I wish you would add your own discoveries and
intelligence to those of Dr. Rawlinson, and undertake the Supplement to
Wood[501]'. Think of it.' In the other, 'I wish, Sir, you could obtain
some fuller information of Jortin[502], Markland[503], and Thirlby[504].
They were three contemporaries of great eminence.'



'I heard yesterday of your late disorder[505], and should think ill of
myself if I had heard of it without alarm. I heard likewise Of your
recovery, which I sincerely wish to be complete and permanent. Your
country has been in danger of losing one of its brightest ornaments, and
I of losing one of my oldest and kindest friends: but I hope you will
still live long, for the honour of the nation: and that more enjoyment
of your elegance, your intelligence, and your benevolence, is still
reserved for, dear Sir, your most affectionate, &c.



Nov. 14, 1782.'

The Reverend Mr. Wilson having dedicated to him his _Archaeological
Dictionary_[506], that mark of respect was thus acknowledged:--



'That I have long omitted to return you thanks for the honour conferred
upon me by your Dedication, I entreat you with great earnestness not to
consider as more faulty than it is. A very importunate and oppressive
disorder has for some time debarred me from the pleasures, and
obstructed me in the duties of life. The esteem and kindness of wise and
good men is one of the last pleasures which I can be content to lose;
and gratitude to those from whom this pleasure is received, is a duty of
which I hope never to be reproached with the final neglect. I therefore
now return you thanks for the notice which I have received from you, and
which I consider as giving to my name not only more bulk, but more
weight; not only as extending its superficies, but as increasing its
value. Your book was evidently wanted, and will, I hope, find its way
into the school, to which, however, I do not mean to confine it; for no
man has so much skill in ancient rites and practices as not to want it.
As I suppose myself to owe part of your kindness to my excellent friend,
Dr. Patten, he has likewise a just claim to my acknowledgements, which I
hope you, Sir, will transmit. There will soon appear a new edition of my
Poetical Biography; if you will accept of a copy to keep me in your
mind, be pleased to let me know how it may be conveniently conveyed to
you. The present is small, but it is given with good will by,
Reverend Sir,

'Your most, &c.


'December 31, 1782[507].'

1783: AETAT. 74.--In 1783, he was more severely afflicted than ever,
as will appear in the course of his correspondence[508]; but still the
same ardour for literature, the same constant piety, the same kindness
for his friends, and the same vivacity, both in conversation and
writing, distinguished him.

Having given Dr. Johnson a full account of what I was doing at
Auchinleck, and particularly mentioned what I knew would please him,--my
having brought an old man of eighty-eight from a lonely cottage to a
comfortable habitation within my enclosures, where he had good
neighbours near to him,--I received an answer in February, of which I
extract what follows:--

'I am delighted with your account of your activity at Auchinleck, and
wish the old gentleman, whom you have so kindly removed, may live long
to promote your prosperity by his prayers. You have now a new character
and new duties: think on them and practise them.

'Make an impartial estimate of your revenue, and whatever it is, live
upon less. Resolve never to be poor. Frugality is not only the basis of
quiet, but of beneficence. No man can help others that wants help
himself; we must have enough before we have to spare.

'I am glad to find that Mrs. Boswell grows well; and hope that to keep
her well, no care nor caution will be omitted. May you long live
happily together.

'When you come hither, pray bring with you Baxter's _Anacreon_[509]. I
cannot get that edition in London.'

On Friday, March 31, having arrived in London the night before, I was
glad to find him at Mrs. Thrale's house, in Argyll-street, appearances
of friendship between them being still kept up. I was shewn into his
room, and after the first salutation he said, 'I am glad you are come. I
am very ill.' He looked pale, and was distressed with a difficulty of
breathing; but after the common inquiries he assumed his usual strong
animated style of conversation. Seeing me now for the first time as a
_Laird_, or proprietor of land, he began thus: 'Sir, the superiority of
a country-gentleman over the people upon his estate is very agreeable;
and he who says he does not feel it to be agreeable, lies; for it must
be agreeable to have a casual superiority over those who are by nature
equal with us[510].' BOSWELL. 'Yet, Sir, we see great proprietors of
land who prefer living in London.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, the pleasure of
living in London, the intellectual superiority that is enjoyed there,
may counter-balance the other. Besides, Sir, a man may prefer the state
of the country-gentleman upon the whole, and yet there may never be a
moment when he is willing to make the change to quit London for it.' He
said, 'It is better to have five _per cent_. out of land than out of
money, because it is more secure; but the readiness of transfer, and
promptness of interest, make many people rather choose the funds. Nay,
there is another disadvantage belonging to land, compared with money. A
man is not so much afraid of being a hard creditor, as of being a hard
landlord.' BOSWELL. 'Because there is a sort of kindly connection
between a landlord and his tenants.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; many landlords
with us never see their tenants. It is because if a landlord drives away
his tenants, he may not get others; whereas the demand for money is so
great, it may always be lent.'

He talked with regret and indignation of the factious opposition to
Government at this time[511], and imputed it in a great measure to the
Revolution. 'Sir, (said he, in a low voice, having come nearer to me,
while his old prejudices seemed to be fermenting in his mind,) this
Hanoverian family is _isolée_ here[512]. They have no friends. Now the
Stuarts had friends who stuck by them so late as 1745. When the right of
the King is not reverenced, there will not be reverence for those
appointed by the King.'

His observation that the present royal family has no friends, has been
too much justified by the very ungrateful behaviour of many who were
under great obligations to his Majesty; at the same time there are
honourable exceptions; and the very next year after this conversation,
and ever since, the King has had as extensive and generous support as
ever was given to any monarch, and has had the satisfaction of knowing
that he was more and more endeared to his people[513].

He repeated to me his verses on Mr. Levett, with an emotion which gave
them full effect[514]; and then he was pleased to say, 'You must be as
much with me as you can. You have done me good. You cannot think how
much better I am since you came in.'

He sent a message to acquaint Mrs. Thrale that I was arrived. I had not
seen her since her husband's death. She soon appeared, and favoured me
with an invitation to stay to dinner, which I accepted. There was no
other company but herself and three of her daughters, Dr. Johnson, and
I. She too said, she was very glad I was come, for she was going to
Bath, and should have been sorry to leave Dr. Johnson before I came.
This seemed to be attentive and kind; and I who had not been informed of
any change, imagined all to be as well as formerly. He was little
inclined to talk at dinner, and went to sleep after it; but when he
joined us in the drawing-room, he seemed revived, and was again himself.

Talking of conversation, he said, 'There must, in the first place, be
knowledge, there must be materials; in the second place, there must be a
command of words; in the third place, there must be imagination, to
place things in such views as they are not commonly seen in; and in the
fourth place, there must be presence of mind, and a resolution that is
not to be overcome by failures: this last is an essential requisite; for
want of it many people do not excel in conversation. Now _I_ want it: I
throw up the game upon losing a trick.' I wondered to hear him talk thus
of himself, and said, 'I don't know, Sir, how this may be; but I am sure
you beat other people's cards out of their hands.' I doubt whether he
heard this remark. While he went on talking triumphantly, I was fixed in
admiration, and said to Mrs. Thrale, 'O, for short-hand to take this
down!' 'You'll carry it all in your head; (said she;) a long head is as
good as short-hand.'

It has been observed and wondered at, that Mr. Charles Fox never talked
with any freedom in the presence of Dr. Johnson[515], though it is well
known, and I myself can witness, that his conversation is various,
fluent, and exceedingly agreeable. Johnson's own experience, however, of
that gentleman's reserve was a sufficient reason for his going on thus:
'Fox never talks in private company; not from any determination not to
talk, but because he has not the first motion[516]. A man who is used to
the applause of the House of Commons, has no wish for that of a private
company. A man accustomed to throw for a thousand pounds, if set down to
throw for sixpence, would not be at the pains to count his dice. Burke's
talk is the ebullition of his mind; he does not talk from a desire of
distinction, but because his mind is full[517].

He thus curiously characterised one of our old acquaintance: '----[518]
is a good man, Sir; but he is a vain man and a liar. He, however, only
tells lies of vanity; of victories, for instance, in conversation, which
never happened.' This alluded to a story which I had repeated from that
gentleman, to entertain Johnson with its wild bravado: 'This Johnson,
Sir, (said he,) whom you are all afraid of will shrink, if you come
close to him in argument and roar as loud as he. He once maintained the
paradox, that there is no beauty but in utility[519]. "Sir, (said I,)
what say you to the peacock's tail, which is one of the most beautiful
objects in nature, but would have as much utility if its feathers were
all of one colour." He _felt_ what I thus produced, and had recourse to
his usual expedient, ridicule; exclaiming, "A peacock has a tail, and a
fox has a tail;" and then he burst out into a laugh. "Well, Sir, (said
I, with a strong voice, looking him full in the face,) you have
unkennelled your fox; pursue him if you dare." He had not a word to say,
Sir.' Johnson told me, that this was a fiction from beginning
to end[520].

After musing for some time, he said, 'I wonder how I should have any
enemies; for I do harm to nobody[521].' BOSWELL. 'In the first place,
Sir, you will be pleased to recollect, that you set out with attacking
the Scotch; so you got a whole nation for your enemies.' JOHNSON. 'Why,
I own, that by my definition of _oats_[522] I meant to vex them.'
BOSWELL. 'Pray, Sir, can you trace the cause of your antipathy to the
Scotch.' JOHNSON. 'I cannot, Sir[523].' BOSWELL. 'Old Mr. Sheridan says,
it was because they sold Charles the First.' JOHNSON. 'Then, Sir, old
Mr. Sheridan has found out a very good reason.'

Surely the most obstinate and sulky nationality, the most determined
aversion to this great and good man, must be cured, when he is seen thus
playing with one of his prejudices, of which he candidly admitted that
he could not tell the reason. It was, however, probably owing to his
having had in his view the worst part of the Scottish nation, the needy
adventurers, many of whom he thought were advanced above their merits by
means which he did not approve. Had he in his early life been in
Scotland, and seen the worthy, sensible, independent gentlemen, who live
rationally and hospitably at home, he never could have entertained such
unfavourable and unjust notions of his fellow-subjects. And accordingly
we find, that when he did visit Scotland, in the latter period of his
life, he was fully sensible of all that it deserved, as I have already
pointed out, when speaking of his _Journey to the Western Islands_.[524]

Next day, Saturday, March 22, I found him still at Mrs. Thrale's, but he
told me that he was to go to his own house in the afternoon[525]. He was
better, but I perceived he was but an unruly patient, for Sir Lucas
Pepys, who visited him, while I was with him said, 'If you were
_tractable_, Sir, I should prescribe for you.'

I related to him a remark which a respectable friend had made to me,
upon the then state of Government, when those who had been long in
opposition had attained to power, as it was supposed, against the
inclination of the Sovereign[526]. 'You need not be uneasy (said this
gentleman) about the King. He laughs at them all; he plays them one
against another.' JOHNSON. 'Don't think so, Sir. The King is as much
oppressed as a man can be. If he plays them one against another, he
_wins_ nothing.'

I had paid a visit to General Oglethorpe in the morning, and was told by
him that Dr. Johnson saw company on Saturday evenings, and he would meet
me at Johnson's that night. When I mentioned this to Johnson, not
doubting that it would please him, as he had a great value for
Oglethorpe, the fretfulness of his disease unexpectedly shewed itself;
his anger suddenly kindled, and he said, with vehemence, 'Did not you
tell him not to come? Am I to be _hunted_ in this manner?' I satisfied
him that I could not divine that the visit would not be convenient, and
that I certainly could not take it upon me of my own accord to forbid
the General.

I found Dr. Johnson in the evening in Mrs. Williams's room, at tea and
coffee with her and Mrs. Desmoulins, who were also both ill; it was a
sad scene, and he was not in very good humour. He said of a performance
that had lately come out, 'Sir, if you should search all the madhouses
in England, you would not find ten men who would write so, and think
it sense.'

I was glad when General Oglethorpe's arrival was announced, and we left
the ladies. Dr. Johnson attended him in the parlour, and was as
courteous as ever. The General said he was busy reading the writers of
the middle age. Johnson said they were very curious. OGLETHORPE. 'The
House of Commons has usurped the power of the nation's money, and used
it tyrannically. Government is now carried on by corrupt influence,
instead of the inherent right in the King.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, the want of
inherent right in the King occasions all this disturbance. What we did
at the Revolution was necessary: but it broke our constitution[527].'
OGLETHORPE. 'My father did not think it necessary.'

On Sunday, March 23, I breakfasted with Dr. Johnson, who seemed much
relieved, having taken opium the night before. He however protested
against it, as a remedy that should be given with the utmost reluctance,
and only in extreme necessity. I mentioned how commonly it was used in
Turkey, and that therefore it could not be so pernicious as he
apprehended. He grew warm and said, 'Turks take opium, and Christians
take opium; but Russel, in his _Account of Aleppo_[528], tells us, that
it is as disgraceful in Turkey to take too much opium, as it is with us
to get drunk. Sir, it is amazing how things are exaggerated. A gentleman
was lately telling in a company where I was present, that in France as
soon as a man of fashion marries, he takes an opera girl into keeping;
and this he mentioned as a general custom. 'Pray, Sir, (said I,) how
many opera girls may there be?' He answered, 'About fourscore.' Well
then, Sir, (said I,) you see there can be no more than fourscore men of
fashion who can do this[529].'

Mrs. Desmoulins made tea; and she and I talked before him upon a topick
which he had once borne patiently from me when we were by
ourselves[530],--his not complaining of the world, because he was not
called to some great office, nor had attained to great wealth. He flew
into a violent passion, I confess with some justice, and commanded us to
have done. 'Nobody, (said he) has a right to talk in this manner, to
bring before a man his own character, and the events of his life, when
he does not choose it should be done. I never have sought the world;
the world was not to seek me. It is rather wonderful that so much has
been done for me. All the complaints which are made of the world are
unjust[531]. I never knew a man of merit neglected[532]: it was
generally by his own fault that he failed of success. A man may hide his
head in a hole: he may go into the country, and publish a book now and
then, which nobody reads, and then complain he is neglected[533]. There
is no reason why any person should exert himself for a man who has
written a good book: he has not written it for any individual. I may as
well make a present to the postman who brings me a letter. When
patronage was limited, an authour expected to find a Maecenas, and
complained if he did not find one. Why should he complain? This Maecenas
has others as good as he, or others who have got the start of him.'
BOSWELL. 'But surely, Sir, you will allow that there are men of merit at
the bar, who never get practice.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, you are sure that
practice is got from an opinion that the person employed deserves it
best; so that if a man of merit at the bar does not get practice, it is
from errour, not from injustice. He is not neglected. A horse that is
brought to market may not be bought, though he is a very good horse: but
that is from ignorance, not from intention[534].'

There was in this discourse much novelty, ingenuity, and discrimination,
such as is seldom to be found. Yet I cannot help thinking that men of
merit, who have no success in life, may be forgiven for _lamenting_, if
they are not allowed to _complain_. They may consider it as _hard_ that
their merit should not have its suitable distinction. Though there is no
intentional injustice towards them on the part of the world, their merit
not having been perceived, they may yet repine against _fortune_, or
_fate_, or by whatever name they choose to call the supposed
mythological power of _Destiny_. It has, however, occurred to me, as a
consolatory thought, that men of merit should consider thus:-How much
harder would it be if the same persons had both all the merit and all
the prosperity. Would not this be a miserable distribution for the poor
dunces? Would men of merit exchange their intellectual superiority, and
the enjoyments arising from it, for external distinction and the
pleasures of wealth? If they would not, let them not envy others, who
are poor where they are rich, a compensation which is made to them. Let
them look inwards and be satisfied; recollecting with conscious pride
what Virgil finely says of the _Corycius Senex_, and which I have, in
another place[535], with truth and sincerity applied to Mr. Burke:--

     '_Regum aequabat opes animis[536].'_

On the subject of the right employment of wealth, Johnson observed, 'A
man cannot make a bad use of his money, so far as regards Society, if he
does not hoard it; for if he either spends it or lends it out, Society
has the benefit. It is in general better to spend money than to give it
away; for industry is more promoted by spending money than by giving it
away. A man who spends his money is sure he is doing good with it: he is
not so sure when he gives it away. A man who spends ten thousand a year
will do more good than a man who spends two thousand and gives away

In the evening I came to him again. He was somewhat fretful from his
illness. A gentleman[538] asked him, whether he had been abroad to-day.
'Don't talk so childishly, (said he.) You may as well ask if I hanged
myself to-day.' I mentioned politicks. JOHNSON. 'Sir, I'd as soon have a
man to break my bones as talk to me of publick affairs, internal or
external. I have lived to see things all as bad as they can be.'

Having mentioned his friend the second Lord Southwell, he said, 'Lord
Southwell was the highest-bred man without insolence that I ever was in
company with; the most _qualified_ I ever saw. Lord Orrery[539] was not
dignified: Lord Chesterfield was, but he was insolent[540]. Lord
----[541] is a man of coarse manners, but a man of abilities and
information. I don't say he is a man I would set at the head of a
nation, though perhaps he may be as good as the next Prime Minister that
comes; but he is a man to be at the head of a Club; I don't say _our_
CLUB; for there's no such Club.' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, was he not once a
factious man?' JOHNSON. 'O yes, Sir; as factious a fellow as could be
found: one who was for sinking us all into the mob[542].' BOSWELL. 'How
then, Sir, did he get into favour with the King?' JOHNSON. 'Because,
Sir, I suppose he promised the King to do whatever the King pleased.'

He said, 'Goldsmith's blundering speech to Lord Shelburne, which has
been so often mentioned, and which he really did make to him, was only a
blunder in emphasis: "I wonder they should call your Lordship
_Malagrida_[543], for Malagrida was a very good man;" meant, I wonder
they should use _Malagrida_ as a term of reproach[544].'

Soon after this time I had an opportunity of seeing, by means of one of
his friends[545], a proof that his talents, as well as his obliging
service to authours, were ready as ever. He had revised _The Village_,
an admirable poem, by the Reverend Mr. Crabbe. Its sentiments as to the
false notions of rustick happiness and rustick virtue were quite
congenial with his own[546]; and he had taken the trouble not only to
suggest slight corrections and variations, but to furnish some lines,
when he thought he could give the writer's meaning better than in the
words of the manuscript[547].

On Sunday, March 30, I found him at home in the evening, and had the
pleasure to meet with Dr. Brocklesby[548], whose reading, and knowledge
of life, and good spirits, supply him with a never-failing source of
conversation. He mentioned a respectable gentleman, who became extremely
penurious near the close of his life. Johnson said there must have been
a degree of madness about him. 'Not at all, Sir, (said Dr. Brocklesby,)
his judgement was entire.' Unluckily, however, he mentioned that
although he had a fortune of twenty-seven thousand pounds, he denied
himself many comforts, from an apprehension that he could not afford
them. 'Nay, Sir, (cried Johnson,) when the judgement is so disturbed
that a man cannot count, that is pretty well.'

I shall here insert a few of Johnson's sayings, without the formality of
dates, as they have no reference to any particular time or place.

'The more a man extends and varies his acquaintance the better.' This,
however, was meant with a just restriction; for, he on another occasion
said to me, 'Sir, a man may be so much of every thing, that he is
nothing of any thing.'

'Raising the wages of day-labourers is wrong[549]; for it does not make
them live better, but only makes them idler, and idleness is a very bad
thing for human nature.'

'It is a very good custom to keep a journal[550] for a man's own use; he
may write upon a card a day all that is necessary to be written, after
he has had experience of life. At first there is a great deal to be
written, because there is a great deal of novelty; but when once a man
has settled his opinions, there is seldom much to be set down.'

'There is nothing wonderful in the journal which we see Swift kept in
London, for it contains slight topicks, and it might soon be

I praised the accuracy of an account-book of a lady whom I mentioned.
JOHNSON. 'Keeping accounts, Sir, is of no use when a man is spending his
own money, and has nobody to whom he is to account. You won't eat less
beef to-day, because you have written down what it cost yesterday.' I
mentioned another lady who thought as he did, so that her husband could
not get her to keep an account of the expence of the family, as she
thought it enough that she never exceeded the sum allowed her. JOHNSON.
'Sir, it is fit she should keep an account, because her husband wishes
it; but I do not see its use[552].' I maintained that keeping an account
has this advantage, that it satisfies a man that his money has not been
lost or stolen, which he might sometimes be apt to imagine, were there
no written state of his expence; and beside, a calculation of oeconomy
so as not to exceed one's income, cannot be made without a view of the
different articles in figures, that one may see how to retrench in some
particulars less necessary than others. This he did not attempt
to answer.

Talking of an acquaintance of ours[553], whose narratives, which
abounded in curious and interesting topicks, were unhappily found to be
very fabulous; I mentioned Lord Mansfield's having said to me, 'Suppose
we believe one _half_ of what he tells.' JOHNSON. 'Ay; but we don't know
_which_ half to believe. By his lying we lose not only our reverence for
him, but all comfort in his conversation.' BOSWELL. 'May we not take it
as amusing fiction?' JOHNSON. 'Sir, the misfortune is, that you will
insensibly believe as much of it as you incline to believe.'

It is remarkable, that notwithstanding their congeniality in politicks,
he never was acquainted with a late eminent noble judge[554], whom I
have heard speak of him as a writer, with great respect[555]. Johnson, I
know not upon what degree of investigation, entertained no exalted
opinion of his Lordship's intellectual character[556]. Talking of him to
me one day, he said, 'It is wonderful, Sir, with how little real
superiority of mind men can make an eminent figure in publick life.' He
expressed himself to the same purpose concerning another law-Lord, who,
it seems, once took a fancy to associate with the wits of London; but
with so little success, that Foote said, 'What can he mean by coming
among us? He is not only dull himself, but the cause of dullness in
others[557].' Trying him by the test of his colloquial powers, Johnson
had found him very defective. He once said to Sir Joshua Reynolds, 'This
man now has been ten years about town, and has made nothing of it;'
meaning as a companion[558]. He said to me, 'I never heard any thing
from him in company that was at all striking; and depend upon it, Sir,
it is when you come close to a man in conversation, that you discover
what his real abilities are; to make a speech in a publick assembly is a
knack. Now I honour Thurlow, Sir; Thurlow is a fine fellow; he fairly
puts his mind to yours[559].'

After repeating to him some of his pointed, lively sayings, I said, 'It
is a pity, Sir, you don't always remember your own good things, that you
may have a laugh when you will.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, it is better that I
forget them, that I may be reminded of them, and have a laugh on their
being brought to my recollection.'

When I recalled to him his having said as we sailed up Loch-lomond[560],
'That if he wore any thing fine, it should be _very_ fine;' I observed
that all his thoughts were upon a great scale. JOHNSON. 'Depend upon it,
Sir, every man will have as fine a thing as he can get; as a large
diamond for his ring.' BOSWELL. 'Pardon me, Sir: a man of a narrow mind
will not think of it, a slight trinket will satisfy him:

     "_Nee sufferre queat majoris pondera gemmae_[561]."'

I told him I should send him some Essays which I had written[562], which
I hoped he would be so good as to read, and pick out the good ones.
JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, send me only the good ones; don't make _me_
pick them.'

I heard him once say, 'Though the proverb _Nullum numen abest, si sit
prudentia[563], does not always prove true, we may be certain of the
converse of it, _Nullum numen adest, si sit imprudentia_.'

Once, when Mr. Seward was going to Bath, and asked his commands, he
said, 'Tell Dr. Harrington that I wish he would publish another volume
of the _Nugae antiquae_[564]; it is a very pretty book[565].' Mr. Seward
seconded this wish, and recommended to Dr. Harrington to dedicate it to
Johnson, and take for his motto, what Catullus says to Cornelius Nepos:--

     '----_namque tu solebas,
      Meas esse aliquid putare_ NUGAS[566].'

As a small proof of his kindliness and delicacy of feeling, the
following circumstance may be mentioned: One evening when we were in the
street together, and I told him I was going to sup at Mr. Beauclerk's,
he said, 'I'll go with you.' After having walked part of the way,
seeming to recollect something, he suddenly stopped and said, 'I cannot
go,--but _I do not love Beauclerk the less_.'

On the frame of his portrait, Mr. Beauclerk had inscribed,--

     '----_Ingenium ingens
      Inculto latet hoc sub corpore_[567].'

After Mr. Beauclerk's death, when it became Mr. Langton's property, he
made the inscription be defaced. Johnson said complacently, 'It was kind
in you to take it off;' and then after a short pause, added, 'and not
unkind in him to put it on.'

He said, 'How few of his friends' houses would a man choose to be at
when he is sick.' He mentioned one or two. I recollect only

He observed, 'There is a wicked inclination in most people to suppose an
old man decayed in his intellects. If a young or middle-aged man, when
leaving a company, does not recollect where he laid his hat, it is
nothing; but if the same inattention is discovered in an old man, people
will shrug up their shoulders, and say, 'His memory is going[569].'

When I once talked to him of some of the sayings which every body
repeats, but nobody knows where to find, such as _Quos DEUS vult
perdere, prius dementat_[570]; he told me that he was once offered ten
guineas to point out from whence _Semel insanivimus omnes_ was taken. He
could not do it; but many years afterwards met with it by chance in
_Johannes Baptista Mantuanus_[571].

I am very sorry that I did not take a note of an eloquent argument in
which he maintained that the situation of Prince of Wales was the
happiest of any person's in the kingdom, even beyond that of the
Sovereign. I recollect only--the enjoyment of hope[572],--the high
superiority of rank, without the anxious cares of government,--and a
great degree of power, both from natural influence wisely used, and from
the sanguine expectations of those who look forward to the chance of
future favour.

Sir Joshua Reynolds communicated to me the following particulars:--

Johnson thought the poems published as translations from Ossian had so
little merit, that he said, 'Sir, a man might write such stuff for ever,
if he would _abandon_ his mind to it[573].'

He said, 'A man should pass a part of his time with _the laughers_, by
which means any thing ridiculous or particular about him might be
presented to his view, and corrected.' I observed, he must have been a
bold laugher who would have ventured to tell Dr. Johnson of any of his

Having observed the vain ostentatious importance of many people in
quoting the authority of Dukes and Lords, as having been in their
company, he said, he went to the other extreme, and did not mention his
authority when he should have done it, had it not been that of a Duke or
a Lord[575].

Dr. Goldsmith said once to Dr. Johnson, that he wished for some
additional members to the LITERARY CLUB, to give it an agreeable
variety; for (said he,) there can now be nothing new among us: we have
travelled over one another's minds. Johnson seemed a little angry, and
said, 'Sir, you have not travelled over _my_ mind, I promise you.' Sir
Joshua, however, thought Goldsmith right; observing, that 'when people
have lived a great deal together, they know what each of them will say
on every subject. A new understanding, therefore, is desirable; because
though it may only furnish the same sense upon a question which would
have been furnished by those with whom we are accustomed to live, yet
this sense will have a different colouring; and colouring is of much
effect in every thing else as well as in painting.'

Johnson used to say that he made it a constant rule to talk as well as
he could both as to sentiment and expression, by which means, what had
been originally effort became familiar and easy[576]. The consequence of
this, Sir Joshua observed, was, that his common conversation in all
companies was such as to secure him universal attention, as something
above the usual colloquial style was expected[577].

Yet, though Johnson had this habit in company, when another mode was
necessary, in order to investigate truth, he could descend to a language
intelligible to the meanest capacity. An instance of this was witnessed
by Sir Joshua Reynolds, when they were present at an examination of a
little blackguard boy, by Mr. Saunders Welch[578], the late Westminster
Justice. Welch, who imagined that he was exalting himself in Dr.
Johnson's eyes by using big words, spoke in a manner that was utterly
unintelligible to the boy; Dr. Johnson perceiving it, addressed himself
to the boy, and changed the pompous phraseology into colloquial
language. Sir Joshua Reynolds, who was much amused by this procedure,
which seemed a kind of reversing of what might have been expected from
the two men, took notice of it to Dr. Johnson, as they walked away by
themselves. Johnson said, that it was continually the case; and that he
was always obliged to _translate_ the Justice's swelling diction,
(smiling,) so as that his meaning might be understood by the vulgar,
from whom information was to be obtained[579].

Sir Joshua once observed to him, that he had talked above the capacity
of some people with whom they had been in company together. 'No matter,
Sir, (said Johnson); they consider it as a compliment to be talked to,
as if they were wiser than they are. So true is this, Sir, that Baxter
made it a rule in every sermon that he preached, to say something that
was above the capacity of his audience[580].'

Johnson's dexterity in retort, when he seemed to be driven to an
extremity by his adversary, was very remarkable. Of his power in this
respect, our common friend, Mr. Windham, of Norfolk, has been pleased to
furnish me with an eminent instance. However unfavourable to Scotland,
he uniformly gave liberal praise to George Buchanan[581], as a writer.
In a conversation concerning the literary merits of the two countries,
in which Buchanan was introduced, a Scotchman, imagining that on this
ground he should have an undoubted triumph over him, exclaimed, 'Ah, Dr.
Johnson, what would you have said of Buchanan, had he been an
Englishman?' 'Why, Sir, (said Johnson, after a little pause,) I should
_not_ have said of Buchanan, had he been an _Englishman_, what I will
now say of him as a _Scotchman_,--that he was the only man of genius
his country ever produced.'

And this brings to my recollection another instance of the same nature.
I once reminded him that when Dr. Adam Smith was expatiating on the
beauty of Glasgow, he had cut him short by saying, 'Pray, Sir, have you
ever seen Brentford?' and I took the liberty to add, 'My dear Sir,
surely that was _shocking_.' 'Why, then, Sir, (he replied,) YOU have
never seen Brentford.'

Though his usual phrase for conversation was _talk_[582], yet he made a
distinction; for when he once told me that he dined the day before at a
friend's house, with 'a very pretty company;' and I asked him if there
was good conversation, he answered, 'No, Sir; we had _talk_ enough, but
no _conversation_; there was nothing _discussed_.'

Talking of the success of the Scotch in London, he imputed it In a
considerable degree to their spirit of nationality. 'You know, Sir,
(said he,) that no Scotchman publishes a book, or has a play brought
upon the stage, but there are five hundred people ready to applaud

He gave much praise to his friend, Dr. Burney's elegant and entertaining
travels[584], and told Mr. Seward that he had them in his eye, when
writing his _Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland_.

Such was his sensibility, and so much was he affected by pathetick
poetry, that, when he was reading Dr. Beattie's _Hermit_ in my presence,
it brought tears into his eyes[585].

He disapproved much of mingling real facts with fiction. On this
account he censured a book entitled _Love and Madness_[586].

Mr. Hoole told him, he was born in Moorfields, and had received part of
his early instruction in Grub-street. 'Sir, (said Johnson, smiling) you
have been _regularly_ educated.' Having asked who was his instructor,
and Mr. Hoole having answered, 'My uncle, Sir, who was a taylor;'
Johnson, recollecting himself, said, 'Sir, I knew him; we called him the
_metaphysical taylor_. He was of a club in Old-street, with me and
George Psalmanazar, and some others[587]: but pray, Sir, was he a good
taylor?' Mr. Hoole having answered that he believed he was too
mathematical, and used to draw squares and triangles on his shop-board,
so that he did not excel in the cut of a coat;--'I am sorry for it (said
Johnson,) for I would have every man to be master of his own business.'

In pleasant reference to himself and Mr. Hoole, as brother authours, he
often said, 'Let you and I, Sir, go together, and eat a beef-steak in

Sir William Chambers, that great Architect[589], whose works shew a
sublimity of genius, and who is esteemed by all who know him for his
social, hospitable, and generous qualities, submitted the manuscript of
his _Chinese Architecture_ to Dr. Johnson's perusal. Johnson was much
pleased with it, and said, 'It wants no addition nor correction, but a
few lines of introduction;' which he furnished, and Sir William

He said to Sir William Scott, 'The age is running mad after innovation;
all the business of the world is to be done in a new way; men are to be
hanged in a new way; Tyburn itself is not safe from the fury of
innovation[591].' It having been argued that this was an
improvement,--'No, Sir, (said he, eagerly,) it is _not_ an improvement:
they object that the old method drew together a number of spectators.
Sir, executions are intended to draw spectators. If they do not draw
spectators they don't answer their purpose. The old method was most
satisfactory to all parties; the publick was gratified by a
procession[592]; the criminal was supported by it. Why is all this to
be swept away?' I perfectly agree with Dr. Johnson upon this head, and
am persuaded that executions now, the solemn procession being
discontinued, have not nearly the effect which they formerly had[593].
Magistrates both in London, and elsewhere, have, I am afraid, in this
had too much regard to their own ease[594].

Of Dr. Hurd, Bishop of Worcester, Johnson said to a friend, 'Hurd, Sir,
is one of a set of men who account for every thing systematically; for
instance, it has been a fashion to wear scarlet breeches; these men
would tell you, that according to causes and effects, no other wear
could at that time have been chosen.' He, however, said of him at
another time to the same gentleman, 'Hurd, Sir, is a man whose
acquaintance is a valuable acquisition.'

That learned and ingenious Prelate[595] it is well known published at
one period of his life _Moral and Political Dialogues_, with a woefully
whiggish cast. Afterwards, his Lordship having thought better, came to
see his errour, and republished the work with a more constitutional
spirit. Johnson, however, was unwilling to allow him full credit for his
political conversion. I remember when his Lordship declined the honour
of being Archbishop of Canterbury, Johnson said, 'I am glad he did not
go to Lambeth; for, after all, I fear he is a Whig in his heart.'

Johnson's attention to precision and clearness in expression was very
remarkable. He disapproved of parentheses; and I believe in all his
voluminous writings, not half a dozen of them will be found. He never
used the phrases _the former_ and _the latter_, having observed, that
they often occasioned obscurity; he therefore contrived to construct his
sentences so as not to have occasion for them, and would even rather
repeat the same words, in order to avoid them[596]. Nothing is more
common than to mistake surnames when we hear them carelessly uttered for
the first time. To prevent this, he used not only to pronounce them
slowly and distinctly, but to take the trouble of spelling them; a
practice which I have often followed; and which I wish were general.

Such was the heat and irritability of his blood, that not only did he
pare his nails to the quick; but scraped the joints of his fingers with
a pen-knife, till they seemed quite red and raw.

The heterogeneous composition of human nature was remarkably
exemplified in Johnson. His liberality in giving his money to persons in
distress was extraordinary. Yet there lurked about him a propensity to
paultry saving. One day I owned to him that 'I was occasionally troubled
with a fit of _narrowness_.' 'Why, Sir, (said he,) so am I. _But I do
not tell it_.' He has now and then borrowed a shilling of me; and when I
asked for it again, seemed to be rather out of humour. A droll little
circumstance once occurred: as if he meant to reprimand my minute
exactness as a creditor, he thus addressed me;--'Boswell, _lend_ me
sixpence--_not to be repaid_[597].'

This great man's attention to small things was very remarkable. As an
instance of it, he one day said to me, 'Sir, when you get silver in
change for a guinea, look carefully at it; you may find some curious
piece of coin.'

Though a stern _true-born Englishman_[598], and fully prejudiced against
all other nations, he had discernment enough to see, and candour enough
to censure, the cold reserve too common among Englishmen towards
strangers: 'Sir, (said he,) two men of any other nation who are shewn
into a room together, at a house where they are both visitors, will
immediately find some conversation. But two Englishmen will probably go
each to a different window, and remain in obstinate silence. Sir, we as
yet do not enough understand the common rights of humanity[599].'

Johnson was at a certain period of his life a good deal with the Earl of
Shelburne[600], now Marquis of Lansdown, as he doubtless could not but
have a due value for that nobleman's activity of mind, and uncommon
acquisitions of important knowledge, however much he might disapprove of
other parts of his Lordship's character, which were widely different
from his own.

Maurice Morgann, Esq., authour of the very ingenious _Essay on the
character of Falstaff_[601], being a particular friend of his Lordship,
had once an opportunity of entertaining Johnson for a day or two at
Wickham, when its Lord was absent, and by him I have been favoured with
two anecdotes.

One is not a little to the credit of Johnson's candour. Mr. Morgann and
he had a dispute pretty late at night, in which Johnson would not give
up, though he had the wrong side, and in short, both kept the field.
Next morning, when they met in the breakfasting-room, Dr. Johnson
accosted Mr. Morgann thus:--'Sir, I have been thinking on our dispute
last night--_You were in the right_[602].'

The other was as follows:--Johnson, for sport perhaps, or from the
spirit of contradiction, eagerly maintained that Derrick[603] had merit
as a writer. Mr. Morgann argued with him directly, in vain. At length he
had recourse to this device. 'Pray, Sir, (said he,) whether do you
reckon Derrick or Smart[604] the best poet?' Johnson at once felt
himself roused; and answered, 'Sir, there is no settling the point of
precedency between a louse and a flea.'

Once, when checking my boasting too frequently of myself in company, he
said to me, 'Boswell, you often vaunt so much, as to provoke ridicule.
You put me in mind of a man who was standing in the kitchen of an inn
with his back to the fire, and thus accosted the person next him, "Do
you know, Sir, who I am?" "No, Sir, (said the other,) I have not that
advantage." "Sir, (said he,) I am the _great_ TWALMLEY, who invented the
New Floodgate Iron[605]."' The Bishop of Killaloe, on my repeating the
story to him, defended Twalmley, by observing, that he was entitled to
the epithet of _great_; for Virgil in his groupe of worthies in the
Elysian fields--

     _Hic manus ob patriam pugnando vulnera passi_, &c.


     _Inventas aut qui vitam excoluere per artes_[606].

He was pleased to say to me one morning when we were left alone in his
study, 'Boswell, I think I am easier with you than with almost
any body.'

He would not allow Mr. David Hume any credit for his political
principles, though similar to his own; saying of him, 'Sir, he was a
Tory by chance[607].'

His acute observation of human life made him remark, 'Sir, there is
nothing by which a man exasperates most people more, than by displaying
a superiour ability or brilliancy in conversation. They seem pleased at
the time; but their envy makes them curse him at their hearts[608].'

My readers will probably be surprised to hear that the great Dr. Johnson
could amuse himself with so slight and playful a species of composition
as a _Charade_. I have recovered one which he made on Dr. _Barnard_, now
Lord Bishop of Killaloe; who has been pleased for many years to treat me
with so much intimacy and social ease, that I may presume to call him
not only my Right Reverend, but my very dear Friend. I therefore with
peculiar pleasure give to the world a just and elegant compliment thus
paid to his Lordship by Johnson[609].


'My _first_[610] shuts out thieves from your house or your room,
 My _second_[611] expresses a Syrian perfume.
 My _whole_[612] is a man in whose converse is shar'd,
 The strength of a Bar and the sweetness of Nard.'

Johnson asked Richard Owen Cambridge, Esq., if he had read the Spanish
translation of _Sallust_, said to be written by a Prince of Spain[613],
with the assistance of his tutor, who is professedly the authour of a
treatise annexed, on the Phoenician language.

Mr. Cambridge commended the work, particularly as he thought the
Translator understood his authour better than is commonly the case with
Translators: but said, he was disappointed in the purpose for which he
borrowed the book; to see whether a Spaniard could be better furnished
with inscriptions from monuments, coins, or other antiquities which he
might more probably find on a coast, so immediately opposite to
Carthage, than the Antiquaries of any other countries. JOHNSON. 'I am
very sorry you was[614] not gratified in your expectations.' CAMBRIDGE.
'The language would have been of little use, as there is no history
existing in that tongue to balance the partial accounts which the Roman
writers have left us.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir. They have not been _partial_,
they have told their own story, without shame or regard to equitable
treatment of their injured enemy; they had no compunction, no feeling
for a Carthaginian. Why, Sir, they would never have borne Virgil's
description of Aeneas's treatment of Dido, if she had not been a

I gratefully acknowledge this and other communications from Mr.
Cambridge, whom, if a beautiful villa on the banks of the Thames, a few
miles distant from London, a numerous and excellent library, which he
accurately knows and reads, a choice collection of pictures, which he
understands and relishes, an easy fortune, an amiable family, an
extensive circle of friends and acquaintance, distinguished by rank,
fashion and genius, a literary fame, various, elegant and still
increasing, colloquial talents rarely to be found[616], and with all
these means of happiness, enjoying, when well advanced in years, health
and vigour of body, serenity and animation of mind, do not entitle to be
addressed _fortunate senex!_[617] I know not to whom, in any age, that
expression could with propriety have been used. Long may he live to hear
and to feel it!

Johnson's love of little children, which he discovered upon all
occasions, calling them 'pretty dears,' and giving them sweetmeats, was
an undoubted proof of the real humanity and gentleness of his

His uncommon kindness to his servants, and serious concern, not only for
their comfort in this world, but their happiness in the next, was
another unquestionable evidence of what all, who were intimately
acquainted with him, knew to be true.

Nor would it be just, under this head, to omit the fondness which he
shewed for animals which he had taken under his protection. I never
shall forget the indulgence with which he treated Hodge, his cat: for
whom he himself used to go out and buy oysters, lest the servants having
that trouble should take a dislike to the poor creature. I am,
unluckily, one of those who have an antipathy to a cat, so that I am
uneasy when in the room with one; and I own, I frequently suffered a
good deal from the presence of this same Hodge. I recollect him one day
scrambling up Dr. Johnson's breast, apparently with much satisfaction,
while my friend smiling and half-whistling, rubbed down his back, and
pulled him by the tail; and when I observed he was a fine cat, saying,
'Why yes, Sir, but I have had cats whom I liked better than this;' and
then as if perceiving Hodge to be out of countenance, adding, 'but he is
a very fine cat, a very fine cat indeed.'

This reminds me of the ludicrous account which he gave Mr. Langton, of
the despicable state of a young Gentleman of good family. 'Sir, when I
heard of him last, he was running about town shooting cats.' And then in
a sort of kindly reverie, he bethought himself of his own favourite cat,
and said, 'But Hodge shan't be shot; no, no, Hodge shall not be shot.'

He thought Mr. Beauclerk made a shrewd and judicious' remark to Mr.
Langton, who, after having been for the first time in company with a
well-known wit about town, was warmly admiring and praising him, 'See
him again,' said Beauclerk.

His respect for the Hierarchy, and particularly the Dignitaries of the
Church, has been more than once exhibited in the course of this
work[619]. Mr. Seward saw him presented to the Archbishop of York[620],
and described his _Bow to an ARCH-BISHOP_, as such a studied elaboration
of homage, such an extension of limb, such a flexion of body, as have
seldom or ever been equalled.

I cannot help mentioning with much regret, that by my own negligence I
lost an opportunity of having the history of my family from its founder
Thomas Boswell, in 1504, recorded and illustrated by Johnson's pen. Such
was his goodness to me, that when I presumed to solicit him for so great
a favour, he was pleased to say, 'Let me have all the materials you can
collect, and I will do it both in Latin and English; then let it be
printed and copies of it be deposited in various places for security and
preservation.' I can now only do the best I can to make up for this
loss, keeping my great Master steadily in view. Family histories, like
the _imagines majorum_ of the Ancients, excite to virtue; and I wish
that they who really have blood, would be more careful to trace and
ascertain its course. Some have affected to laugh at the history of the
house of Yvery[621]: it would be well if many others would transmit
their pedigrees to posterity, with the same accuracy and generous zeal
with which the Noble Lord who compiled that work has honoured and
perpetuated his ancestry.

On Thursday, April 10[622], I introduced to him, at his house in
Bolt-court, the Honourable and Reverend William Stuart, son of the Earl
of Bute; a gentleman truly worthy of being known to Johnson; being, with
all the advantages of high birth, learning, travel, and elegant manners,
an exemplary parish priest in every respect.

After some compliments on both sides, the tour which Johnson and I had
made to the Hebrides was mentioned. JOHNSON. 'I got an acquisition of
more ideas by it than by any thing that I remember. I saw quite a
different system of life[623].' BOSWELL. 'You would not like to make the
same journey again?' JOHNSON. 'Why no, Sir; not the same: it is a tale
told. Gravina, an Italian critick, observes, that every man desires to
see that of which he has read; but no man desires to read an account of
what he has seen: so much does description fall short of reality.
Description only excites curiosity: seeing satisfies it. Other people
may go and see the Hebrides.' BOSWELL. 'I should wish to go and see some
country totally different from what I have been used to; such as Turkey,
where religion and every thing else are different.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir;
there are two objects of curiosity,--the Christian world, and the
Mahometan world. All the rest may be considered as barbarous.' BOSWELL.
'Pray, Sir, is the _Turkish Spy_[624] a genuine book?' JOHNSON. 'No,
Sir. Mrs. Manley, in her _Life_, says that her father wrote the first
two volumes[625]: and in another book, _Dunton's Life and Errours_, we
find that the rest was written by one _Sault_, at two guineas a sheet,
under the direction of Dr. Midgeley[626].

BOSWELL. 'This has been a very factious reign, owing to the too great
indulgence of Government.' JOHNSON. 'I think so, Sir. What at first was
lenity, grew timidity[627]. Yet this is reasoning _à posteriori_, and
may not be just. Supposing a few had at first been punished, I believe
faction would have been crushed; but it might have been said, that it
was a sanguinary reign. A man cannot tell _à priori_ what will be best
for Government to do. This reign has been very unfortunate. We have had
an unsuccessful war; but that does not prove that we have been ill
governed. One side or other must prevail in war, as one or other must
win at play. When we beat Louis we were not better governed; nor were
the French better governed when Louis beat us.'

On Saturday, April 12, I visited him, in company with Mr. Windham, of
Norfolk, whom, though a Whig, he highly valued. One of the best things
he ever said was to this gentleman; who, before he set out for Ireland
as Secretary to Lord Northington, when Lord Lieutenant, expressed to the
Sage some modest and virtuous doubts, whether he could bring himself to
practise those arts which it is supposed a person in that situation has
occasion to employ. 'Don't be afraid, Sir, (said Johnson, with a
pleasant smile,) you will soon make a very pretty rascal[628].

He talked to-day a good deal of the wonderful extent and variety of
London, and observed, that men of curious enquiry might see in it such
modes of life as very few could even imagine. He in particular
recommended to us to _explore Wapping_, which we resolved to do[629].

Mr. Lowe, the painter, who was with him, was very much distressed that a
large picture which he had painted was refused to be received into the
Exhibition of the Royal Academy. Mrs. Thrale knew Johnson's character so
superficially, as to represent him as unwilling to do small acts of
benevolence; and mentions in particular, that he would hardly take the
trouble to write a letter in favour of his friends[630]. The truth,
however, is, that he was remarkable, in an extraordinary degree, for
what she denies to him; and, above all, for this very sort of kindness,
writing letters for those to whom his solicitations might be of service.
He now gave Mr. Lowe the following, of which I was diligent enough, with
his permission, to take copies at the next coffee-house, while Mr.
Windham was so good as to stay by me.



'Mr. Lowe considers himself as cut off from all credit and all hope, by
the rejection of his picture from the Exhibition. Upon this work he has
exhausted all his powers, and suspended all his expectations: and,
certainly, to be refused an opportunity of taking the opinion of the
publick, is in itself a very great hardship. It is to be condemned
without a trial.

If you could procure the revocation of this incapacitating edict, you
would deliver an unhappy man from great affliction. The Council has
sometimes reversed its own determination; and I hope, that by your
interposition this luckless picture may be got admitted. I am, &c.


April 12, 1783.



Mr. Lowe's exclusion from the exhibition gives him more trouble than you
and the other gentlemen of the Council could imagine or intend. He
considers disgrace and ruin as the inevitable consequence of your

He says, that some pictures have been received after rejection; and if
there be any such precedent, I earnestly entreat that you will use your
interest in his favour. Of his work I can say nothing; I pretend not to
judge of painting; and this picture I never saw: but I conceive it
extremely hard to shut out any man from the possibility of success; and
therefore I repeat my request that you will propose the re-consideration
of Mr. Lowe's case; and if there be any among the Council with whom my
name can have any weight, be pleased to communicate to them the desire
of, Sir, Your most humble servant, SAM. JOHNSON. April 12, 1783.

Such intercession was too powerful to be resisted; and Mr. Lowe's
performance was admitted at Somerset Place[631]. The subject, as I
recollect, was the Deluge, at that point of time when the water was
verging to the top of the last uncovered mountain. Near to the spot was
seen the last of the antediluvian race, exclusive of those who were
saved in the ark of Noah. This was one of those giants, then the
inhabitants of the earth, who had still strength to swim, and with one
of his hands held aloft his infant child. Upon the small remaining dry
spot appeared a famished lion, ready to spring at the child and devour
it. Mr. Lowe told me that Johnson said to him, 'Sir, your picture is
noble and probable.' 'A compliment, indeed, (said Mr. Lowe,) from a man
who cannot lie, and cannot be mistaken.'

About this time he wrote to Mrs. Lucy Porter, mentioning his bad health,
and that he intended a visit to Lichfield. 'It is, (says he,) with no
great expectation of amendment that I make every year a journey into the
country; but it is pleasant to visit those whose kindness has been often

On April 18, (being Good-Friday,) I found him at breakfast, in his usual
manner upon that day, drinking tea without milk, and eating a cross-bun
to prevent faintness; we went to St. Clement's church, as formerly. When
we came home from church, he placed himself on one of the stone-seats at
his garden-door, and I took the other, and thus in the open air and in a
placid frame of mind, he talked away very easily. JOHNSON. 'Were I a
country gentleman, I should not be very hospitable, I should not have
crowds in my house[632].' BOSWELL. 'Sir Alexander Dick[633] tells me,
that he remembers having a thousand people in a year to dine at his
house: that is, reckoning each person as one, each time that he dined
there.' JOHNSON. 'That, Sir, is about three a day.' BOSWELL. 'How your
statement lessens the idea.' JOHNSON. 'That, Sir, is the good of
counting[634]. It brings every thing to a certainty, which before
floated in the mind indefinitely.' BOSWELL. 'But _Omne ignotum pro
magnifico est[635]: one is sorry to have this diminished.' JOHNSON.
'Sir, you should not allow yourself to be delighted with errour.'
BOSWELL. 'Three a day seem but few.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, he who
entertains three a day, does very liberally. And if there is a large
family, the poor entertain those three, for they eat what the poor would
get: there must be superfluous meat; it must be given to the poor, or
thrown out.' BOSWELL. 'I observe in London, that the poor go about and
gather bones, which I understand are manufactured.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir;
they boil them, and extract a grease from them for greasing wheels and
other purposes. Of the best pieces they make a mock ivory, which is used
for hafts to knives, and various other things; the coarser pieces they
burn and pound, and sell the ashes.' BOSWELL. 'For what purpose, Sir?'
JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, for making a furnace for the chymists for melting
iron. A paste made of burnt bones will stand a stronger heat than any
thing else. Consider, Sir; if you are to melt iron, you cannot line your
pot with brass, because it is softer than iron, and would melt sooner;
nor with iron, for though malleable iron is harder than cast iron, yet
it would not do; but a paste of burnt-bones will not melt.' BOSWELL. 'Do
you know, Sir, I have discovered a manufacture to a great extent, of
what you only piddle at,--scraping and drying the peel of oranges[636].
At a place in Newgate-street, there is a prodigious quantity prepared,
which they sell to the distillers.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, I believe they make a
higher thing out of them than a spirit; they make what is called
orange-butter, the oil of the orange inspissated, which they mix perhaps
with common pomatum, and make it fragrant. The oil does not fly off in
the drying.'

BOSWELL. 'I wish to have a good walled garden.' JOHNSON. 'I don't think
it would be worth the expence to you. We compute in England, a park wall
at a thousand pounds a mile; now a garden-wall must cost at least as
much. You intend your trees should grow higher than a deer will leap.
Now let us see; for a hundred pounds you could only have forty-four
square yards, which is very little; for two hundred pounds, you may have
eighty-four square yards[637], which is very well. But when will you get
the value of two hundred pounds of walls, in fruit, in your climate? No,
Sir, such contention with Nature is not worth while. I would plant an
orchard, and have plenty of such fruit as ripen well in your country. My
friend, Dr. Madden[638], of Ireland, said, that "in an orchard there
should be enough to eat, enough to lay up, enough to be stolen, and
enough to rot upon the ground." Cherries are an early fruit, you may
have them; and you may have the early apples and pears.' BOSWELL. 'We
cannot have nonpareils.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, you can no more have nonpareils
than you can have grapes.' BOSWELL. 'We have them, Sir; but they are
very bad.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, never try to have a thing merely to shew
that you _cannot_ have it. From ground that would let for forty
shillings you may have a large orchard; and you see it costs you only
forty shillings. Nay, you may graze the ground when the trees are grown
up; you cannot while they are young.' BOSWELL. 'Is not a good garden a
very common thing in England, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'Not so common, Sir, as
you imagine[639]. In Lincolnshire there is hardly an orchard; in
Staffordshire very little fruit.' BOSWELL. 'Has Langton no orchard?'
JOHNSON. 'No, Sir.' BOSWELL. 'How so, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, from the
general negligence of the county. He has it not, because nobody else has
it.' BOSWELL. 'A hot-house is a certain thing; I may have that.'
JOHNSON. 'A hot-house is pretty certain; but you must first build it,
then you must keep fires in it, and you must have a gardener to take
care of it.' BOSWELL. 'But if I have a gardener at any rate?--' JOHNSON.
'Why, yes.' BOSWELL.' I'd have it near my house; there is no need to
have it in the orchard.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, I'd have it near my house. I
would plant a great many currants; the fruit is good, and they make a
pretty sweetmeat.'

I record this minute detail, which some may think trifling, in order to
shew clearly how this great man, whose mind could grasp such large and
extensive subjects, as he has shewn in his literary labours, was yet
well-informed in the common affairs of life, and loved to
illustrate them.

Mr. Walker, the celebrated master of elocution[640], came in, and then
we went up stairs into the study. I asked him if he had taught many
clergymen. JOHNSON. 'I hope not.' WALKER. 'I have taught only one, and
he is the best reader I ever heard, not by my teaching, but by his own
natural talents.' JOHNSON. 'Were he the best reader in the world, I
would not have it told that he was taught.' Here was one of his peculiar
prejudices. Could it be any disadvantage to the clergyman to have it
known that he was taught an easy and graceful delivery? BOSWELL. 'Will
you not allow, Sir, that a man may be taught to read well?' JOHNSON.
'Why, Sir, so far as to read better than he might do without being
taught, yes. Formerly it was supposed that there was no difference in
reading, but that one read as well as another.' BOSWELL. 'It is
wonderful to see old Sheridan as enthusiastick about oratory as
ever[641],' WALKER. 'His enthusiasm as to what oratory will do, may be
too great: but he reads well.' JOHNSON. 'He reads well, but he reads
low[642]; and you know it is much easier to read low than to read high;
for when you read high, you are much more limited, your loudest note can
be but one, and so the variety is less in proportion to the loudness.
Now some people have occasion to speak to an extensive audience, and
must speak loud to be heard.' WALKER. 'The art is to read strong,
though low.'

Talking of the origin of language; JOHNSON. 'It must have come by
inspiration. A thousand, nay, a million of children could not invent a
language. While the organs are pliable, there is not understanding
enough to form a language; by the time that there is understanding
enough, the organs are become stiff. We know that after a certain age we
cannot learn to pronounce a new language. No foreigner, who comes to
England when advanced in life, ever pronounces English tolerably well;
at least such instances are very rare. When I maintain that language
must have come by inspiration, I do not mean that inspiration is
required for rhetorick, and all the beauties of language; for when once
man has language, we can conceive that he may gradually form
modifications of it. I mean only that inspiration seems to me to be
necessary to give man the faculty of speech; to inform him that he may
have speech; which I think he could no more find out without
inspiration, than cows or hogs would think of such a faculty.' WALKER.
'Do you think, Sir, that there are any perfect synonimes in any
language?' JOHNSON. 'Originally there were not; but by using words
negligently, or in poetry, one word comes to be confounded
with another.'

He talked of Dr. Dodd[643]. 'A friend of mine, (said he,) came to me and
told me, that a lady wished to have Dr. Dodd's picture in a bracelet,
and asked me for a motto. I said, I could think of no better than
_Currat Lex_. I was very willing to have him pardoned, that is, to have
the sentence changed to transportation: but, when he was once hanged, I
did not wish he should be made a saint.'

Mrs. Burney, wife of his friend Dr. Burney, came in, and he seemed to be
entertained with her conversation.

Garrick's funeral was talked of as extravagantly expensive. Johnson,
from his dislike to exaggeration, would not allow that it was
distinguished by any extraordinary pomp. 'Were there not six horses to
each coach?' said Mrs. Burney. JOHNSON. 'Madam, there were no more six
horses than six phoenixes[644].'

Mrs. Burney wondered that some very beautiful new buildings should be
erected in Moorfields, in so shocking a situation as between Bedlam and
St. Luke's Hospital; and said she could not live there. JOHNSON. 'Nay,
Madam, you see nothing there to hurt you. You no more think of madness
by having windows that look to Bedlam, than you think of death by having
windows that look to a church-yard.' MRS. BURNEY. 'We may look to a
church-yard, Sir; for it is right that we should be kept in mind of
death.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Madam, if you go to that, it is right that we
should be kept in mind of madness, which is occasioned by too much
indulgence of imagination. I think a very moral use may be made of these
new buildings: I would have those who have heated imaginations live
there, and take warning.' MRS. BURNEY. 'But, Sir, many of the poor
people that are mad, have become so from disease, or from distressing
events. It is, therefore, not their fault, but their misfortune; and,
therefore, to think of them is a melancholy consideration.'

Time passed on in conversation till it was too late for the service of
the church at three o'clock. I took a walk, and left him alone for some
time; then returned, and we had coffee and conversation again by

I stated the character of a noble friend of mine, as a curious case for
his opinion:--'He is the most inexplicable man to me that I ever knew.
Can you explain him, Sir? He is, I really believe, noble-minded,
generous, and princely. But his most intimate friends may be separated
from him for years, without his ever asking a question concerning them.
He will meet them with a formality, a coldness, a stately indifference;
but when they come close to him, and fairly engage him in conversation,
they find him as easy, pleasant, and kind, as they could wish. One then
supposes that what is so agreeable will soon be renewed; but stay away
from him for half a year, and he will neither call on you, nor send to
inquire about you.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, I cannot ascertain his character
exactly, as I do not know him; but I should not like to have such a man
for my friend. He may love study, and wish not to be interrupted by his
friends; _Amici fures temporis_. He may be a frivolous man, and be so
much occupied with petty pursuits, that he may not want friends. Or he
may have a notion that there is a dignity in appearing indifferent,
while he in fact may not be more indifferent at his heart than another.'

We went to evening prayers at St. Clement's, at seven, and then parted.

On Sunday, April 20, being Easter-day, after attending solemn service at
St. Paul's, I came to Dr. Johnson, and found Mr. Lowe, the painter,
sitting with him. Mr. Lowe mentioned the great number of new buildings
of late in London, yet that Dr. Johnson had observed, that the number of
inhabitants was not increased. JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, the bills of
mortality prove that no more people die now than formerly; so it is
plain no more live. The register of births proves nothing, for not one
tenth of the people of London are born there.' BOSWELL. 'I believe, Sir,
a great many of the children born in London die early.' JOHNSON. 'Why,
yes, Sir.' BOSWELL. 'But those who do live, are as stout and strong
people as any[645]: Dr. Price[646] says, they must be naturally stronger
to get through.' JOHNSON. 'That is system, Sir. A great traveller
observes, that it is said there are no weak or deformed people among the
Indians; but he with much sagacity assigns the reason of this, which is,
that the hardship of their life as hunters and fishers does not allow
weak or diseased children to grow up. Now had I been an Indian, I must
have died early; my eyes would not have served me to get food. I indeed
now could fish, give me English tackle; but had I been an Indian I must
have starved, or they would have knocked me on the head, when they saw I
could do nothing.' BOSWELL. 'Perhaps they would have taken care of you:
we are told they are fond of oratory, you would have talked to them.'
JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, I should not have lived long enough to be fit to
talk; I should have been dead before I was ten years old. Depend upon
it, Sir, a savage, when he is hungry, will not carry about with him a
looby of nine years old, who cannot help himself. They have no
affection, Sir.' BOSWELL. 'I believe natural affection, of which we
hear so much, is very small.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, natural affection is
nothing: but affection from principle and established duty is sometimes
wonderfully strong.' LOWE. 'A hen, Sir, will feed her chickens in
preference to herself.' JOHNSON. 'But we don't know that the hen is
hungry; let the hen be fairly hungry, and I'll warrant she'll peck the
corn herself. A cock, I believe, will feed hens instead of himself; but
we don't know that the cock is hungry.' BOSWELL. 'And that, Sir, is not
from affection but gallantry. But some of the Indians have affection.'
JOHNSON. 'Sir, that they help some of their children is plain; for some
of them live, which they could not do without being helped.'

I dined with him; the company were, Mrs. Williams, Mrs. Desmoulins, and
Mr. Lowe. He seemed not to be well, talked little, grew drowsy soon
after dinner, and retired, upon which I went away.

Having next day gone to Mr. Burke's seat in the country, from whence I
was recalled by an express, that a near relation of mine had killed his
antagonist in a duel, and was himself dangerously wounded[647], I saw
little of Dr. Johnson till Monday, April 28, when I spent a considerable
part of the day with him, and introduced the subject, which then chiefly
occupied my mind. JOHNSON. 'I do not see, Sir, that fighting is
absolutely forbidden in Scripture; I see revenge forbidden, but not
self-defence.' BOSWELL. 'The Quakers say it is; "Unto him that smiteth
thee on one cheek, offer him also the other[648]."' JOHNSON. 'But stay,
Sir; the text is meant only to have the effect of moderating passion; it
is plain that we are not to take it in a literal sense. We see this from
the context, where there are other recommendations, which I warrant you
the Quaker will not take literally; as, for instance, "From him that
would borrow of thee, turn thou not away[649]." Let a man whose credit
is bad, come to a Quaker, and say, "Well, Sir, lend me a hundred
pounds;" he'll find him as unwilling as any other man. No, Sir, a man
may shoot the man who invades his character, as he may shoot him who
attempts to break into his house[650]. So in 1745, my friend, Tom
Cumming the Quaker[651], said, he would not fight, but he would drive an
ammunition cart; and we know that the Quakers have sent flannel
waistcoats to our soldiers, to enable them to fight better.' BOSWELL.
'When a man is the aggressor, and by ill-usage forces on a duel in which
he is killed, have we not little ground to hope that he is gone into a
state of happiness?' JOHNSON. 'Sir, we are not to judge determinately of
the state in which a man leaves this life. He may in a moment have
repented effectually, and it is possible may have been accepted by GOD.
There is in _Camden's Remains_, an epitaph upon a very wicked man, who
was killed by a fall from his horse, in which he is supposed to say,

     '"Between the stirrup and the ground,
       I mercy ask'd, I mercy found[652]."'

BOSWELL. 'Is not the expression in the Burial-service, "in the _sure_
and _certain_ hope of a blessed resurrection[653]," too strong to be
used indiscriminately, and, indeed, sometimes when those over whose
bodies it is said, have been notoriously profane?' JOHNSON. 'It is sure
and certain _hope_, Sir; not _belief_.' I did not insist further;
but cannot help thinking that less positive words would be more

Talking of a man who was grown very fat, so as to be incommoded with
corpulency; he said, 'He eats too much, Sir.' BOSWELL. 'I don't know,
Sir; you will see one man fat who eats moderately, and another lean who
eats a great deal.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, whatever may be the quantity
that a man eats, it is plain that if he is too fat, he has eaten more
than he should have done. One man may have a digestion that consumes
food better than common; but it is certain that solidity is encreased by
putting something to it.' BOSWELL. 'But may not solids swell and be
distended?' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, they may swell and be distended; but
that is not fat.'

We talked of the accusation against a gentleman for supposed
delinquencies in India[655]. JOHNSON. 'What foundation there is for
accusation I know not, but they will not get at him. Where bad actions
are committed at so great a distance, a delinquent can obscure the
evidence till the scent becomes cold; there is a cloud between, which
cannot be penetrated: therefore all distant power is bad. I am clear
that the best plan for the government of India is a despotick governour;
for if he be a good man, it is evidently the best government; and
supposing him to be a bad man, it is better to have one plunderer than
many. A governour whose power is checked, lets others plunder, that he
himself may be allowed to plunder; but if despotick, he sees that the
more he lets others plunder, the less there will be for himself, so he
restrains them; and though he himself plunders, the country is a gainer,
compared with being plundered by numbers.'

I mentioned the very liberal payment which had been received for
reviewing; and, as evidence of this, that it had been proved in a trial,
that Dr. Shebbeare[656] had received six guineas a sheet for that kind
of literary labour. JOHNSON, 'Sir, he might get six guineas for a
particular sheet, but not _communibus sheetibus_[657].' BOSWELL. 'Pray,
Sir, by a sheet of review is it meant that it shall be all of the
writer's own composition? or are extracts, made from the book reviewed,
deducted.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir: it is a sheet, no matter of what.'
BOSWELL. 'I think that it is not reasonable.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, it is.
A man will more easily write a sheet all his own, than read an octavo
volume to get extracts[658].' To one of Johnson's wonderful fertility of
mind I believe writing was really easier than reading and extracting;
but with ordinary men the case is very different. A great deal, indeed,
will depend upon the care and judgement with which the extracts are
made. I can suppose the operation to be tedious and difficult: but in
many instances we must observe crude morsels cut out of books as if at
random; and when a large extract is made from one place, it surely may
be done with very little trouble. One however, I must acknowledge, might
be led, from the practice of reviewers, to suppose that they take a
pleasure in original writing; for we often find, that instead of giving
an accurate account of what has been done by the authour whose work
they are reviewing, which is surely the proper business of a literary
journal, they produce some plausible and ingenious conceits of their
own, upon the topicks which have been discussed[659].

Upon being told that old Mr. Sheridan, indignant at the neglect of his
oratorical plans, had threatened to go to America; JOHNSON. 'I hope he
will go to America.' BOSWELL. 'The Americans don't want oratory.'
JOHNSON. 'But we can want Sheridan[660].'

On Monday[661], April 29, I found him at home in the forenoon, and Mr.
Seward with him. Horace having been mentioned; BOSWELL. 'There is a
great deal of thinking in his works. One finds there almost every thing
but religion.' SEWARD. 'He speaks of his returning to it, in his Ode
_Parcus Deorum cultor et infrequens_[662] JOHNSON. 'Sir, he was not in
earnest: this was merely poetical.' BOSWELL. 'There are, I am afraid,
many people who have no religion at all.' SEWARD. 'And sensible people
too.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, not sensible in that respect. There must be
either a natural or a moral stupidity, if one lives in a total neglect
of so very important a concern.' SEWARD. 'I wonder that there should be
people without religion.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, you need not wonder at this,
when you consider how large a proportion of almost every man's life is
passed without thinking of it. I myself was for some years totally
regardless of religion. It had dropped out of my mind. It was at an
early part of my life. Sickness brought it back, and I hope I have never
lost it since[663].' BOSWELL. 'My dear Sir, what a man must you have
been without religion! Why you must have gone on drinking, and
swearing, and--[664]' JOHNSON. (with a smile) 'I drank enough and swore
enough, to be sure.' SEWARD. 'One should think that sickness and the
view of death would make more men religious.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, they do not
know how to go about it: they have not the first notion. A man who has
never had religion before, no more grows religious when he is sick, than
a man who has never learnt figures can count when he has need of

I mentioned a worthy friend of ours[665] whom we valued much, but
observed that he was too ready to introduce religious discourse upon all
occasions. JOHNSON. 'Why, yes, Sir, he will introduce religious
discourse without seeing whether it will end in instruction and
improvement, or produce some profane jest. He would introduce it in the
company of Wilkes, and twenty more such.'

I mentioned Dr. Johnson's excellent distinction between liberty of
conscience and liberty of teaching[666]. JOHNSON. 'Consider, Sir; if you
have children whom you wish to educate in the principles of the Church
of England, and there comes a Quaker who tries to pervert them to his
principles, you would drive away the Quaker. You would not trust to the
predomination of right, which you believe is in your opinions; you would
keep wrong out of their heads. Now the vulgar are the children of the
State. If any one attempts to teach them doctrines contrary to what the
State approves, the magistrate may and ought to restrain him.' SEWARD.
'Would you restrain private conversation, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, it
is difficult to say where private conversation begins, and where it
ends. If we three should discuss even the great question concerning the
existence of a Supreme Being by ourselves, we should not be restrained;
for that would be to put an end to all improvement. But if we should
discuss it in the presence of ten boarding-school girls, and as many
boys, I think the magistrate would do well to put us in the stocks, to
finish the debate there.'

Lord Hailes had sent him a present of a curious little printed poem, on
repairing the University of Aberdeen, by David Malloch, which he
thought would please Johnson, as affording clear evidence that Mallet
had appeared even as a literary character by the name of _Malloch_; his
changing which to one of softer sound, had given Johnson occasion to
introduce him into his _Dictionary_, under the article _Alias_[667].
This piece was, I suppose, one of Mallet's first essays. It is preserved
in his works, with several variations. Johnson having read aloud, from
the beginning of it, where there were some common-place assertions as to
the superiority of ancient times;--'How false (said he) is all this, to
say that in ancient times learning was not a disgrace to a Peer as it is
now. In ancient times a Peer was as ignorant as any one else. He would
have been angry to have it thought he could write his name[668]. Men in
ancient times dared to stand forth with a degree of ignorance with which
nobody would dare now to stand forth. I am always angry when I hear
ancient times praised at the expence of modern times. There is now a
great deal more learning in the world than there was formerly; for it is
universally diffused. You have, perhaps, no man who knows as much Greek
and Latin as Bentley[669]; no man who knows as much mathematicks as
Newton: but you have many more men who know Greek and Latin, and who
know mathematicks[670].'

On Thursday, May 1, I visited him in the evening along with young Mr.
Burke. He said, 'It is strange that there should be so little reading in
the world, and so much writing. People in general do not willingly read,
if they can have any thing else to amuse them[671]. There must be an
external impulse; emulation, or vanity, or avarice. The progress which
the understanding makes through a book, has more pain than pleasure in
it. Language is scanty, and inadequate to express the nice gradations
and mixtures of our feelings. No man reads a book of science from pure
inclination. The books that we do read with pleasure are light
compositions, which contain a quick succession of events. However, I
have this year read all Virgil through[672]. I read a book of the
_Aeneid_ every night, so it was done in twelve nights, and I had great
delight in it. The _Georgicks_ did not give me so much pleasure, except
the fourth book. The _Eclogues_ I have almost all by heart. I do not
think the story of the _Aeneid_ interesting. I like the story of the
_Odyssey_ much better[673]; and this not on account of the wonderful
things which it contains; for there are wonderful things enough in the
_Aeneid_;--the ships of the Trojans turned to sea-nymphs,--the tree at
Polydorus's tomb dropping blood. The story of the _Odyssey_ is
interesting, as a great part of it is domestick. It has been said, there
is pleasure in writing, particularly in writing verses. I allow you may
have pleasure from writing, after it is over, if you have written well;
but you don't go willingly to it again[674]. I know when I have been
writing verses, I have run my finger down the margin, to see how many I
had made, and how few I had to make[675].'

He seemed to be in a very placid humour, and although I have no note of
the particulars of young Mr. Burke's conversation, it is but justice to
mention in general, that it was such that Dr. Johnson said to me
afterwards, 'He did very well indeed; I have a mind to tell his



'The gentleman who waits on you with this, is Mr. Cruikshanks[677], who
wishes to succeed his friend Dr. Hunter[678] as Professor of Anatomy in
the Royal Academy. His qualifications are very generally known, and it
adds dignity to the institution that such men[679] are candidates.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'May 2[680], 1783.'

I have no minute of any interview with Johnson till Thursday, May 15,
when I find what follows:--BOSWELL. 'I wish much to be in Parliament,
Sir[681].' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, unless you come resolved to support any
administration, you would be the worse for being in Parliament, because
you would be obliged to live more expensively.' BOSWELL. 'Perhaps, Sir,
I should be the less happy for being in Parliament. I never would sell
my vote, and I should be vexed if things went wrong.' JOHNSON. 'That's
cant, Sir. It would not vex you more in the house, than in the gallery:
publick affairs vex no man.' BOSWELL. 'Have not they vexed yourself a
little, Sir? Have not you been vexed by all the turbulence of this
reign, and by that absurd vote of the House of Commons, "That the
influence of the Crown has increased, is increasing, and ought to be
diminished[682]?"' JOHNSON. 'Sir, I have never slept an hour less, nor
eat an ounce less meat[683]. I would have knocked the factious dogs on
the head, to be sure; but I was not _vexed_.' BOSWELL. 'I declare, Sir,
upon my honour, I did imagine I was vexed, and took a pride in it; but
it _was_, perhaps, cant; for I own I neither ate less, nor slept less.'
JOHNSON. 'My dear friend, clear your _mind_ of cant[684]. You may _talk_
as other people do: you may say to a man, "Sir, I am your most humble
servant." You are not his most humble servant. You may say, "These are
bad times; it is a melancholy thing to be reserved to such times." You
don't mind the times. You tell a man, "I am sorry you had such bad
weather the last day of your journey, and were so much wet." You don't
care six-pence whether he is wet or dry. You may _talk_ in this manner;
it is a mode of talking in Society[685]; but don't _think_

I talked of living in the country. JOHNSON. 'Don't set up for what is
called hospitality; it is a waste of time, and a waste of money; you are
eaten up, and not the more respected for your liberality. If your house
be like an inn, nobody cares for you. A man who stays a week with
another, makes him a slave for a week.'[687] BOSWELL. 'But there are
people, Sir, who make their houses a home to their guests, and are
themselves quite easy.' JOHNSON. 'Then, Sir, home must be the same to
the guests, and they need not come.'

Here he discovered a notion common enough in persons not much accustomed
to entertain company, that there must be a degree of elaborate
attention, otherwise company will think themselves neglected; and such
attention is no doubt very fatiguing.[688] He proceeded: 'I would not,
however, be a stranger in my own county; I would visit my neighbours,
and receive their visits; but I would not be in haste to return visits.
If a gentleman comes to see me, I tell him he does me a great deal of
honour. I do not go to see him perhaps for ten weeks; then we are very
complaisant to each other. No, Sir, you will have much more influence by
giving or lending money where it is wanted, than by hospitality[689].'

On Saturday, May 17, I saw him for a short time. Having mentioned that I
had that morning been with old Mr. Sheridan, he remembered their former
intimacy with a cordial warmth, and said to me, 'Tell Mr. Sheridan, I
shall be glad to see him, and shake hands with him[690].' BOSWELL. 'It
is to me very wonderful that resentment should be kept up so long.'
JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, it is not altogether resentment that he does not
visit me; it is partly falling out of the habit,--partly disgust, as one
has at a drug that has made him sick. Besides, he knows that I laugh at
his oratory[691].'

Another day I spoke of one of our friends, of whom he, as well as I,
had a very high opinion. He expatiated in his praise; but added, 'Sir,
he is a cursed Whig, a _bottomless_ Whig, as they all are now[692].'

I mentioned my expectations from the interest of an eminent person[693]
then in power; adding, 'but I have no claim but the claim of friendship;
however, some people will go a great way from that motive.' JOHNSON.
'Sir, they will go all the way from that motive.' A gentleman talked of
retiring. 'Never think of that,' said Johnson. The gentleman urged, 'I
should then do no ill.' JOHNSON. Nor no good either. Sir, it would be a
civil suicide[694].'

On Monday, May 26, I found him at tea, and the celebrated Miss Burney,
the authour of _Evelina_[695] and _Cecilia_, with him. I asked if there
would be any speakers in Parliament, if there were no places to be
obtained. JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir. Why do you speak here? Either to instruct
and entertain, which is a benevolent motive; or for distinction, which
is a selfish motive.' I mentioned _Cecilia_. JOHNSON. (with an air of
animated satisfaction) 'Sir, if you talk of _Cecilia_, talk on[696].'

We talked of Mr. Barry's exhibition of his pictures. JOHNSON. 'Whatever
the hand may have done, the mind has done its part. There is a grasp of
mind there which you find nowhere else[697].'

I asked whether a man naturally virtuous, or one who has overcome wicked
inclinations, is the best. JOHNSON. 'Sir, to _you_, the man who has
overcome wicked inclinations is not the best. He has more merit to
_himself_: I would rather trust my money to a man who has no hands, and
so a physical impossibility to steal, than to a man of the most honest
principles. There is a witty satirical story of Foote. He had a small
bust of Garrick placed upon his bureau, "You may be surprized (said he)
that I allow him to be so near my gold;--but you will observe he has
no hands."'

On Friday, May 29[698], being to set out for Scotland next morning, I
passed a part of the day with him in more than usual earnestness; as his
health was in a more precarious state than at any time when I had parted
from him. He, however, was quick and lively, and critical as usual. I
mentioned one who was a very learned man. JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir, he has a
great deal of learning; but it never lies straight. There is never one
idea by the side of another; 'tis all entangled: and then he drives it
so aukwardly upon conversation.'

I stated to him an anxious thought, by which a sincere Christian might
be disturbed, even when conscious of having lived a good life, so far as
is consistent with human infirmity; he might fear that he should
afterwards fall away, and be guilty of such crimes as would render all
his former religion vain. Could there be, upon this aweful subject, such
a thing as balancing of accounts? Suppose a man who has led a good life
for seven years, commits an act of wickedness, and instantly dies; will
his former good life have any effect in his favour? JOHNSON. 'Sir, if a
man has led a good life for seven years, and then is hurried by passion
to do what is wrong, and is suddenly carried off, depend upon it he will
have the reward of his seven years' good life; GOD will not take a catch
of him. Upon this principle Richard Baxter believes that a Suicide may
be saved. "If, (says he) it should be objected that what I maintain may
encourage suicide, I answer, I am not to tell a lie to prevent it."'
BOSWELL. 'But does not the text say, "As the tree falls, so it must
lie[699]?"' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir; as the tree falls: but,--(after a
little pause)--that is meant as to the general state of the tree, not
what is the effect of a sudden blast.' In short, he interpreted the
expression as referring to condition, not to position. The common
notion, therefore, seems to be erroneous; and Shenstone's witty remark
on Divines trying to give the tree a jerk upon a death-bed, to make it
lie favourably, is not well founded[700].

I asked him what works of Richard Baxter's I should read. He said, 'Read
any of them; they are all good[701].'

He said, 'Get as much force of mind as you can. Live within your income.
Always have something saved at the end of the year. Let your imports be
more than your exports, and you'll never go far wrong.'

I assured him, that in the extensive and various range of his
acquaintance there never had been any one who had a more sincere respect
and affection for him than I had. He said, 'I believe it, Sir. Were I in
distress, there is no man to whom I should sooner come than to you. I
should like to come and have a cottage in your park, toddle about, live
mostly on milk, and be taken care of by Mrs. Boswell. She and I are good
friends now; are we not?'

Talking of devotion, he said, 'Though it be true that "GOD dwelleth not
in temples made with hands[702]," yet in this state of being, our minds
are more piously affected in places appropriated to divine worship, than
in others. Some people have a particular room in their house, where they
say their prayers; of which I do not disapprove, as it may animate their

He embraced me, and gave me his blessing, as usual when I was leaving
him for any length of time. I walked from his door to-day, with a
fearful apprehension of what might happen before I returned.


Sir, The bringer of this letter is the father of Miss Philips[703], a
singer, who comes to try her voice on the stage at Dublin.

Mr. Philips is one of my old friends; and as I am of opinion that
neither he nor his daughter will do any thing that can disgrace their
benefactors, I take the liberty of entreating you to countenance and
protect them so far as may be suitable to your station[704] and
character; and shall consider myself as obliged by any favourable notice
which they shall have the honour of receiving from you.

I am, Sir, Your most humble servant,

SAM JOHNSON. London, May 31, 1783.'

The following is another instance of his active benevolence:--


DEAR SIR, I have sent you some of my god-son's[705] performances, of
which I do not pretend to form any opinion. When I took the liberty of
mentioning him to you, I did not know what I have since been told, that
Mr. Moser[706] had admitted him among the Students of the Academy. What
more can be done for him I earnestly entreat you to consider; for I am
very desirous that he should derive some advantage from my connection
with him. If you are inclined to see him, I will bring him to wait on
you, at any time that you shall be pleased to appoint.

I am, Sir, Your most humble servant,

SAM. JOHNSON. June 2, 1783.'

My anxious apprehensions at parting with him this year proved to be but
too well founded; for not long afterwards he had a dreadful stroke of
the palsy, of which there are very full and accurate accounts in
letters written by himself, to shew with what composure of mind, and
resignation to the Divine Will, his steady piety enabled him to behave.


DEAR SIR, It has pleased GOD, this morning, to deprive me of the powers
of speech; and as I do not know but that it may be his further good
pleasure to deprive me soon of my senses, I request you will on the
receipt of this note, come to me, and act for me, as the exigencies of
my case may require.

I am, Sincerely yours,

SAM. JOHNSON. June 17, 1783.'


'DEAR SIR, It has pleased GOD, by a Paralytick stroke in the night, to
deprive me of speech.

I am very desirous of Dr. Heberden's[708] assistance, as I think my case
is not past remedy. Let me see you as soon as it is possible. Bring Dr.
Heberden with you, if you can; but come yourself at all events. I am
glad you are so well, when I am so dreadfully attacked.

I think that by a speedy application of stimulants much may be done. I
question if a vomit, vigorous and rough, would not rouse the organs of
speech to action. As it is too early to send, I will try to recollect
what I can, that can be suspected to have brought on this
dreadful distress.

I have been accustomed to bleed frequently for an asthmatick complaint;
but have forborne for some time by Dr. Pepys's persuasion, who
perceived my legs beginning to swell. I sometimes alleviate a painful,
or more properly an oppressive, constriction of my chest, by opiates;
and have lately taken opium frequently, but the last, or two last times,
in smaller quantities. My largest dose is three grains, and last night I
took but two[709]. You will suggest these things (and they are all that
I can call to mind) to Dr. Heberden.

I am, &c. SAM. JOHNSON[710]. June 17, 1783.'

Two days after he wrote thus to Mrs. Thrale[711]:--

'On Monday, the 16th, I sat for my picture[712], and walked a
considerable way with little inconvenience. In the afternoon and evening
I felt myself light and easy, and began to plan schemes of life. Thus I
went to bed, and in a short time waked and sat up, as has been long my
custom, when I felt a confusion and indistinctness in my head, which
lasted, I suppose, about half a minute. I was alarmed, and prayed God,
that however he might afflict my body, he would spare my understanding.
This prayer, that I might try the integrity of my faculties, I made in
Latin verse[713]. The lines were not very good, but I knew them not to
be very good: I made them easily, and concluded myself to be unimpaired
in my faculties.

Soon after I perceived that I had suffered a paralytick stroke, and that
my speech was taken from me. I had no pain, and so little dejection in
this dreadful state, that I wondered at my own apathy, and considered
that perhaps death itself, when it should come, would excite less
horrour than seems now to attend it.

In order to rouse the vocal organs, I took two drams. Wine has been
celebrated for the production of eloquence. I put myself into violent
motion, and I think repeated it; but all was vain. I then went to bed,
and strange as it may seem, I think slept. When I saw light, it was time
to contrive what I should do. Though God stopped my speech, he left me
my hand; I enjoyed a mercy which was not granted to my dear friend
Lawrence[714], who now perhaps overlooks me as I am writing, and
rejoices that I have what he wanted. My first note was necessarily to my
servant, who came in talking, and could not immediately comprehend why
he should read what I put into his hands.

I then wrote a card to Mr. Allen, that I might have a discreet friend at
hand, to act as occasion should require. In penning this note, I had
some difficulty; my hand, I knew not how nor why, made wrong letters. I
then wrote to Dr. Taylor to come to me, and bring Dr. Heberden; and I
sent to Dr. Brocklesby, who is my neighbour. My physicians are very
friendly, and give me great hopes; but you may imagine my situation. I
have so far recovered my vocal powers, as to repeat the Lord's Prayer
with no very imperfect articulation. My memory, I hope, yet remains as
it was; but such an attack produces solicitude for the safety of
every faculty.'


'DEAR SIR, I have had, indeed, a very heavy blow; but GOD, who yet
spares my life, I humbly hope will spare my understanding, and restore
my speech. As I am not at all helpless, I want no particular assistance,
but am strongly affected by Mrs. Davies's tenderness; and when I think
she can do me good, shall be very glad to call upon her. I had ordered
friends to be shut out; but one or two have found the way in; and if you
come you shall be admitted: for I know not whom I can see, that will
bring more amusement on his tongue, or more kindness in his heart. I
am, &c.

SAM. JOHNSON. June 18, 1783.'

It gives me great pleasure to preserve such a memorial of Johnson's
regard for Mr. Davies, to whom I was indebted for my introduction to
him[715]. He indeed loved Davies cordially, of which I shall give the
following little evidence. One day when he had treated him with too much
asperity. Tom, who was not without pride and spirit, went off in a
passion; but he had hardly reached home, when Frank, who had been sent
after him, delivered this note:--'Come, come, dear Davies, I am always
sorry when we quarrel; send me word that we are friends.'


DEAR SIR, Your anxiety about my health is very friendly, and very
agreeable with your general kindness. I have, indeed, had a very
frightful blow. On the 17th of last month, about three in the morning,
as near as I can guess, I perceived myself almost totally deprived of
speech. I had no pain. My organs were so obstructed, that I could say
_no_, but could scarcely say _yes_. I wrote the necessary directions,
for it pleased GOD to spare my hand, and sent for Dr. Heberden and Dr.
Brocklesby. Between the time in which I discovered my own disorder, and
that in which I sent for the doctors, I had, I believe, in spite of my
surprize and solicitude, a little sleep, and Nature began to renew its
operations. They came, and gave the directions which the disease
required, and from that time I have been continually improving in
articulation. I can now speak, but the nerves are weak, and I cannot
continue discourse long; but strength, I hope, will return. The
physicians consider me as cured. I was last Sunday at church. On Tuesday
I took an airing to Hampstead, and dined with THE CLUB[716], where Lord
Palmerston was proposed, and, against my opinion, was rejected[717]. I
designed to go next week with Mr. Langton to Rochester, where I purpose
to stay about ten days, and then try some other air. I have many kind
invitations. Your brother has very frequently enquired after me. Most of
my friends have, indeed, been very attentive[718]. Thank dear Lord
Hailes for his present.

I hope you found at your return every thing gay and prosperous, and your
lady, in particular, quite recovered and confirmed. Pay her my respects.

I am, dear Sir, Your most humble servant, SAM. JOHNSON. London, July 3,


DEAR MADAM, The account which you give of your health is but melancholy.
May it please GOD to restore you. My disease affected my speech, and
still continues, in some degree, to obstruct my utterance; my voice is
distinct enough for a while; but the organs being still weak are quickly
weary: but in other respects I am, I think, rather better than I have
lately been; and can let you know my state without the help of any
other hand.

In the opinion of my friends, and in my own, I am gradually mending. The
Physicians consider me as cured; and I had leave, four days ago, to wash
the cantharides from my head. Last Tuesday I dined at THE CLUB.

I am going next week into Kent, and purpose to change the air frequently
this summer; whether I shall wander so far as Staffordshire I cannot
tell. I should be glad to come. Return my thanks to Mrs. Cobb, and Mr.
Pearson, and all that have shewn attention to me.

Let us, my dear, pray for one another, and consider our sufferings as
notices mercifully given us to prepare ourselves for another state.

I live now but in a melancholy way. My old friend Mr. Levett is dead,
who lived with me in the house, and was useful and companionable; Mrs.
Desmoulins is gone away[719]; and Mrs. Williams is so much decayed, that
she can add little to another's gratifications. The world passes away,
and we are passing with it; but there is, doubtless, another world,
which will endure for ever. Let us all fit ourselves for it.

I am, &c., SAM. JOHNSON. London, July 5, 1783.'

Such was the general vigour of his constitution, that he recovered from
this alarming and severe attack with wonderful quickness; so that in
July he was able to make a visit to Mr. Langton at Rochester[720], where
he passed about a fortnight, and made little excursions as easily as at
any time of his life[721]. In August he went as far as the neighbourhood
of Salisbury, to Heale[722], the seat of William Bowles, Esq[723]., a
gentleman whom I have heard him praise for exemplary religious order in
his family. In his diary I find a short but honourable mention of this
visit: 'August 28, I came to Heale without fatigue. 30. I am entertained
quite to my mind.'

'To DR. BROCKLESBY. Heale, near Salisbury, Aug. 29, 1783.

DEAR SIR, Without appearing to want a just sense of your kind attention,
I cannot omit to give an account of the day which seemed to appear in
some sort perilous. I rose at five and went out at six, and having
reached Salisbury about nine[724], went forward a few miles in my
friend's chariot. I was no more wearied with the journey, though it was
a high-hung, rough coach, than I should have been forty years ago. We
shall now see what air will do. The country is all a plain; and the
house in which I am, so far as I can judge from my window, for I write
before I have left my chamber, is sufficiently pleasant.

Be so kind as to continue your attention to Mrs. Williams; it is great
consolation to the well, and still greater to the sick, that they find
themselves not neglected; and I know that you will be desirous of giving
comfort even where you have no great hope of giving help.

Since I wrote the former part of the letter, I find that by the course
of the post I cannot send it before the thirty-first.

I am, &c. SAM. JOHNSON.'

While he was here he had a letter from Dr. Brocklesby, acquainting him
of the death of Mrs. Williams, which affected him a good deal[725].
Though for several years her temper had not been complacent, she had
valuable qualities, and her departure left a blank in his house[726].
Upon this occasion he, according to his habitual course of piety,
composed a prayer[727].

I shall here insert a few particulars concerning him, with which I have
been favoured by one of his friends[728].

'He had once conceived the design of writing the Life of Oliver
Cromwell[729], saying, that he thought it must be highly curious to
trace his extraordinary rise to the supreme power, from so obscure a
beginning. He at length laid aside his scheme, on discovering that all
that can be told of him is already in print; and that it is
impracticable to procure any authentick information in addition to what
the world is already possessed of[730].'

'He had likewise projected, but at what part of his life is not known, a
work to shew how small a quantity of REAL FICTION there is in the world;
and that the same images, with very little variation, have served all
the authours who have ever written[731].'

'His thoughts in the latter part of his life were frequently employed on
his deceased friends. He often muttered these, or such like sentences:
"Poor man! and then he died."'

'Speaking of a certain literary friend, "He is a very pompous puzzling
fellow, (said he); he lent me a letter once that somebody had written to
him, no matter what it was about; but he wanted to have the letter back,
and expressed a mighty value for it; he hoped it was to be met with
again, he would not lose it for a thousand pounds. I layed my hand upon
it soon afterwards, and gave it him. I believe I said, I was very glad
to have met with it. O, then he did not know that it signified any
thing. So you see, when the letter was lost it was worth a thousand
pounds, and when it was found it was not worth a farthing."'

'The style and character of his conversation is pretty generally known;
it was certainly conducted in conformity with a precept of Lord Bacon,
but it is not clear, I apprehend, that this conformity was either
perceived or intended by Johnson. The precept alluded to is as follows:
"In all kinds of speech, either pleasant, grave, severe, or ordinary, it
is convenient to speak leisurely, and rather drawingly than hastily:
because hasty speech confounds the memory, and oftentimes, besides the
unseemliness, drives the man either to stammering, a non-plus, or
harping on that which should follow; whereas a slow speech confirmeth
the memory, addeth a conceit of wisdom to the hearers, besides a
seemliness of speech and countenance[732]." Dr. Johnson's method of
conversation was certainly calculated to excite attention, and to amuse
and instruct, (as it happened,) without wearying or confusing his
company. He was always most perfectly clear and perspicuous; and his
language was so accurate, and his sentences so neatly constructed, that
his conversation might have been all printed without any correction. At
the same time, it was easy and natural; the accuracy of it had no
appearance of labour, constraint, or stiffness; he seemed more correct
than others, by the force of habit, and the customary exercises of his
powerful mind[733].'

'He spoke often in praise of French literature. "The French are
excellent in this, (he would say,) they have a book on every
subject[734]." From what he had seen of them he denied them the praise
of superiour politeness[735], and mentioned, with very visible disgust,
the custom they have of spitting on the floors of their apartments.
"This, (said the Doctor) is as gross a thing as can well be done; and
one wonders how any man, or set of men, can persist in so offensive a
practice for a whole day together; one should expect that the first
effort towards civilization would remove it even among savages[736]."'

'Baxter's _Reasons of the Christian Religion_, he thought contained the
best collection of the evidences of the divinity of the
Christian system.'

'Chymistry[737] was always an interesting pursuit with Dr. Johnson.
Whilst he was in Wiltshire, he attended some experiments that were made
by a physician at Salisbury, on the new kinds of air[738]. In the
course of the experiments frequent mention being made of Dr. Priestley,
Dr. Johnson knit his brows, and in a stern manner enquired, "Why do we
hear so much of Dr. Priestley[739]?" He was very properly answered,
"Sir, because we are indebted to him for these important discoveries."
On this Dr. Johnson appeared well content; and replied, "Well, well, I
believe we are; and let every man have the honour he has merited."'

'A friend was one day, about two years before his death, struck with
some instance of Dr. Johnson's great candour. "Well, Sir, (said he,) I
will always say that you are a very candid man." "Will you," (replied the
Doctor,) I doubt then you will be very singular. But, indeed, Sir,
(continued he,) I look upon myself to be a man very much misunderstood.
I am not an uncandid, nor am I a severe man. I sometimes say more than I
mean, in jest; and people are apt to believe me serious: however, I am
more candid than I was when I was younger. As I know more of mankind I
expect less of them, and am ready now to call a man a _good man_, upon
easier terms than I was formerly[740].'

On his return from Heale he wrote to Dr. Burney:--

'I came home on the 18th[741] at noon to a very disconsolate house. You
and I have lost our friends[742]; but you have more friends at home. My
domestick companion is taken from me. She is much missed, for her
acquisitions were many, and her curiosity universal; so that she partook
of every conversation[743]. I am not well enough to go much out; and to
sit, and eat, or fast alone, is very wearisome. I always mean to send my
compliments to all the ladies.'

His fortitude and patience met with severe trials during this year. The
stroke of the palsy has been related circumstantially; but he was also
afflicted with the gout, and was besides troubled with a complaint which
not only was attended with immediate inconvenience, but threatened him
with a chirurgical operation, from which most men would shrink. The
complaint was a _sarcocele_, which Johnson bore with uncommon firmness,
and was not at all frightened while he looked forward to amputation. He
was attended by Mr. Pott and Mr. Cruikshank. I have before me a letter
of the 30th of July this year, to Mr. Cruikshank, in which he says, 'I
am going to put myself into your hands;' and another, accompanying a set
of his _Lives of the Poets_, in which he says, 'I beg your acceptance of
these volumes, as an acknowledgement of the great favours which you have
bestowed on, Sir, your most obliged and most humble servant.' I have in
my possession several more letters from him to Mr. Cruikshank, and also
to Dr. Mudge at Plymouth, which it would be improper to insert, as they
are filled with unpleasing technical details. I shall, however, extract
from his letters to Dr. Mudge such passages as shew either a felicity of
expression, or the undaunted state of his mind.

'My conviction of your skill, and my belief of your friendship,
determine me to intreat your opinion and advice.'--'In this state I with
great earnestness desire you to tell me what is to be done. Excision is
doubtless necessary to the cure, and I know not any means of palliation.
The operation is doubtless painful; but is it dangerous? The pain I hope
to endure with decency[744]; but I am loth to put life into much
hazard.'--'By representing the gout as an antagonist to the palsy, you
have said enough to make it welcome. This is not strictly the first fit,
but I hope it is as good as the first; for it is the second that ever
confined me; and the first was ten years ago[745], much less fierce and
fiery than this.'--'Write, dear Sir, what you can to inform or encourage
me. The operation is not delayed by any fears or objections of mine.'

To BENNET LANGTON, ESQ. 'Dear Sir, You may very reasonably charge me
with insensibility of your kindness, and that of Lady Rothes, since I
have suffered so much time to pass without paying any acknowledgement. I
now, at last, return my thanks; and why I did it not sooner I ought to
tell you. I went into Wiltshire as soon as I well could, and was there
much employed in palliating my own malady. Disease produces much
selfishness. A man in pain is looking after ease; and lets most other
things go as chance shall dispose of them. In the mean time I have lost
a companion[746], to whom I have had recourse for domestick amusement
for thirty years, and whose variety of knowledge never was exhausted;
and now return to a habitation vacant and desolate. I carry about a very
troublesome and dangerous complaint, which admits no cure but by the
chirurgical knife. Let me have your prayers. I am, &c.

SAM. JOHNSON. London, Sept. 29, 1783.'

Happily the complaint abated without his being put to the torture of
amputation. But we must surely admire the manly resolution which he
discovered while it hung over him.

In a letter to the same gentleman he writes, 'The gout has within these
four days come upon me with a violence which I never experienced before.
It made me helpless as an infant.' And in another, having mentioned Mrs.
Williams, he says,--'whose death following that of Levett, has now made
my house a solitude. She left her little substance to a charity-school.
She is, I hope, where there is neither darkness, nor want, nor sorrow.'

I wrote to him, begging to know the state of his health, and mentioned
that Baxter's _Anacreon_[747], 'which is in the library at Auchinleck,
was, I find, collated by my father in 1727, with the MS. belonging to
the University of Leyden, and he has made a number of Notes upon it.
Would you advise me to publish a new edition of it?'

His answer was dated September 30:--

'You should not make your letters such rarities, when you know, or might
know, the uniform state of my health. It is very long since I heard from
you; and that I have not answered is a very insufficient reason for the
silence of a friend. Your _Anacreon_ is a very uncommon book; neither
London nor Cambridge can supply a copy of that edition. Whether it
should be reprinted, you cannot do better than consult Lord
Hailes.--Besides my constant and radical disease, I have been for these
ten days much harassed with the gout; but that has now remitted. I hope
GOD will yet grant me a little longer life, and make me less unfit to
appear before him.'

He this autumn received a visit from the celebrated Mrs. Siddons. He
gives this account of it in one of his letters[748] to Mrs. Thrale:--

'Mrs. Siddons, in her visit to me, behaved with great modesty and
propriety, and left nothing behind her to be censured or despised.
Neither praise nor money, the two powerful corrupters of mankind, seem
to have depraved her. I shall be glad to see her again. Her brother
Kemble calls on me, and pleases me very well. Mrs. Siddons and I talked
of plays; and she told me her intention of exhibiting this winter the
characters of Constance, Catharine, and Isabella, in Shakspeare.'

Mr. Kemble has favoured me with the following minute of what passed at
this visit:--

'When Mrs. Siddons came into the room, there happened to be no chair
ready for her, which he observing, said with a smile, "Madam, you who so
often occasion a want of seats to other people, will the more easily
excuse the want of one yourself[749]."

Having placed himself by her, he with great good-humour entered upon a
consideration of the English drama; and, among other inquiries,
particularly asked her which of Shakspeare's characters she was most
pleased with. Upon her answering that she thought the character of Queen
Catharine, in _Henry the Eighth_, the most natural:--"I think so too,
Madam, (said he;) and whenever you perform it, I will once more hobble
out to the theatre myself[750]." Mrs. Siddons promised she would do
herself the honour of acting his favourite part for him; but many
circumstances happened to prevent the representation of _King Henry the
Eighth_ during the Doctor's life.

'In the course of the evening he thus gave his opinion upon the merits
of some of the principal performers whom he remembered to have seen upon
the stage. "Mrs. Porter,[751] in the vehemence of rage, and Mrs. Clive
in the sprightliness of humour, I have never seen equalled. What Clive
did best, she did better than Garrick; but could not do half so many
things well; she was a better romp than any I ever saw in nature[752].
Pritchard[753], in common life, was a vulgar ideot; she would talk of
her _gownd_: but, when she appeared upon the stage, seemed to be
inspired by gentility and understanding. I once talked with Colley
Cibber[754], and thought him ignorant of the principles of his art.
Garrick, Madam, was no declaimer; there was not one of his own
scene-shifters who could not have spoken _To be, or not to be_, better
than he did[755]; yet he was the only actor I ever saw, whom I could
call a master both in tragedy and comedy[756]; though I liked him best
in comedy. A true conception of character, and natural expression of it,
were his distinguished excellencies." Having expatiated, with his usual
force and eloquence, on Mr. Garrick's extraordinary eminence as an
actor, he concluded with this compliment to his social talents: "And
after all, Madam, I thought him less to be envied on the stage than at
the head of a table."'

Johnson, indeed, had thought more upon the subject of acting than might
be generally supposed[757]. Talking of it one day to Mr. Kemble, he
said, 'Are you, Sir, one of those enthusiasts who believe yourself
transformed into the very character you represent?' Upon Mr. Kemble's
answering that he had never felt so strong a persuasion himself[758];
'To be sure not, Sir, (said Johnson;) the thing is impossible. And if
Garrick really believed himself to be that monster, Richard the Third,
he deserved to be hanged every time he performed it[759].'

A pleasing instance of the generous attention of one of his friends has
been discovered by the publication of Mrs. Thrale's collection of
_Letters_. In a letter to one of the Miss Thrales[760], he writes,--

'A friend, whose name I will tell when your mamma has tried to guess
it, sent to my physician to enquire whether this long train of illness
had brought me into difficulties for want of money, with an invitation
to send to him for what occasion required. I shall write this night to
thank him, having no need to borrow.'

And afterwards, in a letter to Mrs. Thrale,--

'Since you cannot guess, I will tell you, that the generous man was
Gerard Hamilton. I returned him a very thankful and respectful

I applied to Mr. Hamilton, by a common friend, and he has been so
obliging as to let me have Johnson's letter to him upon this occasion,
to adorn my collection.



'Your kind enquiries after my affairs, and your generous offers, have
been communicated to me by Dr. Brocklesby. I return thanks with great
sincerity, having lived long enough to know what gratitude is due to
such friendship; and entreat that my refusal may not be imputed to
sullenness or pride. I am, indeed, in no want. Sickness is, by the
generosity of my physicians, of little expence to me. But if any
unexpected exigence should press me, you shall see, dear Sir, how
cheerfully I can be obliged to so much liberality.

     'I am, Sir,
        Your most obedient
          And most humble servant,
                    SAM. JOHNSON.'

'November, 19, 1783[762].'

I find in this, as in former years, notices of his kind attention to
Mrs. Gardiner[763], who, though in the humble station of a
tallow-chandler upon Snow-hill, was a woman of excellent good sense,
pious, and charitable. She told me, she had been introduced to him by
Mrs. Masters[764], the poetess, whose volumes he revised, and, it is
said, illuminated here and there with a ray of his own genius. Mrs.
Gardiner was very zealous for the support of the Ladies' charity-school,
in the parish of St. Sepulchre. It is confined to females; and, I am
told, it afforded a hint for the story of _Betty Broom_ in _The
Idler_[765]. Johnson this year, I find, obtained for it a sermon from
the late Bishop of St. Asaph, Dr. Shipley, whom he, in one of his
letters to Mrs. Thrale[766], characterises as 'knowing and conversible;'
and whom all who knew his Lordship, even those who differed from him in
politicks, remember with much respect[767].

The Earl of Carlisle having written a tragedy, entitled _The Fathers
Revenge_[768], some of his Lordship's friends applied to Mrs.
Chapone[769] to prevail on Dr. Johnson to read and give his opinion of
it[770], which he accordingly did, in a letter to that lady. Sir Joshua
Reynolds having informed me that this letter was in Lord Carlisle's
possession, though I was not fortunate enough to have the honour of
being known to his Lordship, trusting to the general courtesy of
literature, I wrote to him, requesting the favour of a copy of it, and
to be permitted to insert it in my _Life of Dr. Johnson_. His Lordship
was so good as to comply with my request, and has thus enabled me to
enrich my work with a very fine piece of writing, which displays both
the critical skill and politeness of my illustrious friend; and perhaps
the curiosity which it will excite, may induce the noble and elegant
Authour to gratify the world by the publication[771] of a performance,
of which Dr. Johnson has spoken in such terms.



'By sending the tragedy to me a second time[772], I think that a very
honourable distinction has been shewn me, and I did not delay the
perusal, of which I am now to tell the effect.

'The construction of the play is not completely regular; the stage is
too often vacant, and the scenes are not sufficiently connected. This,
however, would be called by Dryden only a mechanical defect[773]; which
takes away little from the power of the poem, and which is seen rather
than felt.

'A rigid examiner of the diction might, perhaps, wish some words
changed, and some lines more vigorously terminated. But from such petty
imperfections what writer was ever free?

'The general form and force of the dialogue is of more importance. It
seems to want that quickness of reciprocation which characterises the
English drama, and is not always sufficiently fervid or animated.

'Of the sentiments I remember not one that I wished omitted. In the
imagery I cannot forbear to distinguish the comparison of joy succeeding
grief to light rushing on the eye accustomed to darkness. It seems to
have all that can be desired to make it please. It is new, just, and

'With the characters, either as conceived or preserved, I have no fault
to find; but was much inclined to congratulate a writer, who, in
defiance of prejudice and fashion, made the Archbishop a good man, and
scorned all thoughtless applause, which a vicious churchman would have
brought him.

'The catastrophe is affecting. The Father and Daughter both culpable,
both wretched, and both penitent, divide between them our pity and
our sorrow.

'Thus, Madam, I have performed what I did not willingly undertake, and
could not decently refuse. The noble writer will be pleased to remember,
that sincere criticism ought to raise no resentment, because judgement
is not under the controul of will; but involuntary criticism, as it has
still less of choice, ought to be more remote from possibility
of offence.

'I am, &c.,


'November 28, 1783.'

I consulted him on two questions of a very different nature: one,
whether the unconstitutional influence exercised by the Peers of
Scotland in the election of the representatives of the Commons[775], by
means of fictitious qualifications, ought not to be resisted;--the
other, What, in propriety and humanity, should be done with old horses
unable to labour. I gave him some account of my life at Auchinleck: and
expressed my satisfaction that the gentlemen of the county had, at two
publick meetings, elected me their _Praeses_ or Chairman[776].



'Like all other men who have great friends, you begin to feel the pangs
of neglected merit; and all the comfort that I can give you is, by
telling you that you have probably more pangs to feel, and more neglect
to suffer. You have, indeed, begun to complain too soon; and I hope I
am the only confidant of your discontent. Your friends have not yet had
leisure to gratify personal kindness; they have hitherto been busy in
strengthening their ministerial interest[777]. If a vacancy happens in
Scotland, give them early intelligence; and as you can serve Government
as powerfully as any of your probable competitors, you may make in some
sort a warrantable claim.

'Of the exaltations and depressions of your mind you delight to talk,
and I hate to hear. Drive all such fancies from you.

'On the day when I received your letter, I think, the foregoing page was
written; to which, one disease or another has hindered me from making
any additions. I am now a little better. But sickness and solitude press
me very heavily. I could bear sickness better, if I were relieved from

'The present dreadful confusion of the publick[779] ought to make you
wrap yourself up in your hereditary possessions, which, though less than
you may wish, are more than you can want; and in an hour of religious
retirement return thanks to GOD, who has exempted you from any strong
temptation to faction, treachery, plunder[780], and disloyalty.

'As your neighbours distinguish you by such honours as they can bestow,
content yourself with your station, without neglecting your profession.
Your estate and the Courts will find you full employment; and your mind,
well occupied, will be quiet.

'The usurpation of the nobility, for they apparently usurp all the
influence they gain by fraud and misrepresentation, I think it certainly
lawful, perhaps your duty, to resist. What is not their own they have
only by robbery.

'Your question about the horses gives me more perplexity. I know not
well what advice to give you. I can only recommend a rule which you do
not want;--give as little pain as you can. I suppose that we have a
right to their service while their strength lasts; what we can do with
them afterwards I cannot so easily determine. But let us consider.
Nobody denies that man has a right first to milk the cow, and to sheer
the sheep, and then to kill them for his table. May he not, by parity of
reason, first work a horse, and then kill him the easiest way, that he
may have the means of another horse, or food for cows and sheep? Man is
influenced in both cases by different motives of self-interest. He that
rejects the one must reject the other.

'I am, &c.


'London, Dec. 24, 1783.'

'A happy and pious Christmas; and many happy years to you, your lady,
and children.'

The late ingenious Mr. Mickle[781], some time before his death, wrote me
a letter concerning Dr. Johnson, in which he mentions,--

'I was upwards of twelve years acquainted with him, was frequently in
his company, always talked with ease to him, and can truly say, that I
never received from him one rough word.'

In this letter he relates his having, while engaged in translating the
_Lusiad_, had a dispute of considerable length with Johnson, who, as
usual, declaimed upon the misery and corruption of a sea life, and used
this expression:--'It had been happy for the world, Sir, if your hero
Gama, Prince Henry of Portugal, and Columbus, had never been born, or
that their schemes had never gone farther than their own imaginations.'

'This sentiment, (says Mr. Mickle,) which is to be found in his
_Introduction to the World displayed_[782], I, in my Dissertation
prefixed to the _Lusiad_, have controverted; and though authours are
said to be bad judges of their own works[783], I am not ashamed to own
to a friend, that that dissertation is my favourite above all that I
ever attempted in prose. Next year, when the Lusiad was published, I
waited on Dr. Johnson, who addressed me with one of his good-humoured
smiles:--"Well, you have remembered our dispute about Prince Henry, and
have cited me too. You have done your part very well indeed: you have
made the best of your argument; but I am not convinced yet."

'Before publishing the _Lusiad_, I sent Mr. Hoole a proof of that part
of the introduction, in which I make mention of Dr. Johnson, yourself,
and other well-wishers to the work, begging it might be shewn to Dr.
Johnson. This was accordingly done; and in place of the simple mention
of him which I had made, he dictated to Mr. Hoole the sentence as it now

'Dr. Johnson told me in 1772, that, about twenty years before that time,
he himself had a design to translate the _Lusiad_, of the merit of which
he spoke highly, but had been prevented by a number of other

Mr. Mickle reminds me in this letter of a conversation, at dinner one
day at Mr. Hoole's with Dr. Johnson, when Mr. Nicol the King's
bookseller and I attempted to controvert the maxim, 'better that ten
guilty should escape, than one innocent person suffer;' and were
answered by Dr. Johnson with great power of reasoning and eloquence. I
am very sorry that I have no record of that day[785]: but I well
recollect my illustrious friend's having ably shewn, that unless civil
institutions insure protection to the innocent, all the confidence which
mankind should have in them would be lost.

I shall here mention what, in strict chronological arrangement, should
have appeared in my account of last year; but may more properly be
introduced here, the controversy having not been closed till this. The
Reverend Mr. Shaw[786], a native of one of the Hebrides, having
entertained doubts of the authenticity of the poems ascribed to Ossian,
divested himself of national bigotry; and having travelled in the
Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and also in Ireland, in order to
furnish himself with materials for a _Gaelick Dictionary_, which he
afterwards compiled[787], was so fully satisfied that Dr. Johnson was in
the right upon the question, that he candidly published a pamphlet,
stating his conviction and the proofs and reasons on which it was
founded. A person at Edinburgh, of the name of Clark, answered this
pamphlet with much zeal, and much abuse of its authour. Johnson took Mr.
Shaw under his protection, and gave him his assistance in writing a
reply, which has been admired by the best judges, and by many been
considered as conclusive. A few paragraphs, which sufficiently mark
their great Authour, shall be selected:--

'My assertions are, for the most part, purely negative: I deny the
existence of Fingal, because in a long and curious peregrination through
the Gaelick regions I have never been able to find it. What I could not
see myself I suspect to be equally invisible to others; and I suspect
with the more reason, as among all those who have seen it no man
can shew it.

'Mr. Clark compares the obstinacy of those who disbelieve the
genuineness of Ossian to a blind man, who should dispute the reality of
colours, and deny that the British troops are cloathed in red. The blind
man's doubt would be rational, if he did not know by experience that
others have a power which he himself wants: but what perspicacity has
Mr. Clark which Nature has withheld from me or the rest of mankind?

'The true state of the parallel must be this. Suppose a man, with eyes
like his neighbours, was told by a boasting corporal, that the troops,
indeed, wore red clothes for their ordinary dress, but that every
soldier had likewise a suit of black velvet, which he put on when the
King reviews them. This he thinks strange, and desires to see the fine
clothes, but finds nobody in forty thousand men that can produce either
coat or waistcoat. One, indeed, has left them in his chest at Port
Mahon; another has always heard that he ought to have velvet clothes
somewhere; and a third has heard somebody say, that soldiers ought to
wear velvet. Can the enquirer be blamed if he goes away believing that a
soldier's red coat is all that he has?

'But the most obdurate incredulity may be shamed or silenced by acts. To
overpower contradictions, let the soldier shew his velvet-coat, and the
Fingalist the original of Ossian[788].

'The difference between us and the blind man is this:--the blind man is
unconvinced, because he cannot see; and we, because though we can see,
we find that nothing can be shown.'

Notwithstanding the complication of disorders under which Johnson now
laboured, he did not resign himself to despondency and discontent, but
with wisdom and spirit endeavoured to console and amuse his mind with as
many innocent enjoyments as he could procure. Sir John Hawkins has
mentioned the cordiality with which he insisted that such of the members
of the old club in Ivy-lane[789] as survived, should meet again and dine
together, which they did, twice at a tavern and once at his house[790]:
and in order to insure himself society in the evening for three days in
the week[791], he instituted a club at the Essex Head, in Essex-street,
then kept by Samuel Greaves, an old servant of Mr. Thrale's.



'It is inconvenient to me to come out, I should else have waited on you
with an account of a little evening Club which we are establishing in
Essex-street, in the Strand, and of which you are desired to be one. It
will be held at the Essex Head, now kept by an old servant of Thrale's.
The company is numerous, and, as you will see by the list,
miscellaneous. The terms are lax, and the expences light. Mr. Barry was
adopted by Dr. Brocklesby, who joined with me in forming the plan. We
meet thrice a week, and he who misses forfeits two-pence[792].

'If you are willing to become a member, draw a line under your name.
Return the list. We meet for the first time on Monday at eight.'

  'I am, &c.
     'SAM. JOHNSON.'

'Dec. 4, 1783.'

It did not suit Sir Joshua to be one of this Club. But when I mention
only Mr. Daines Barrington, Dr. Brocklesby, Mr. Murphy, Mr. John
Nichols, Mr. Cooke, Mr. Joddrel, Mr. Paradise, Dr. Horsley, Mr.
Windham[793], I shall sufficiently obviate the misrepresentation of it
by Sir John Hawkins, as if it had been a low ale-house association, by
which Johnson was degraded[794]. Johnson himself, like his namesake Old
Ben[795], composed the Rules of his Club[796].

In the end of this year he was seized with a spasmodick asthma of such
violence, that he was confined to the house in great pain, being
sometimes obliged to sit all night in his chair, a recumbent posture
being so hurtful to his respiration, that he could not endure lying in
bed; and there came upon him at the same time that oppressive and fatal
disease, a dropsy. It was a very severe winter, which probably
aggravated his complaints; and the solitude in which Mr. Levett and Mrs.
Williams had left him, rendered his life very gloomy. Mrs.
Desmoulins[797], who still lived, was herself so very ill, that she
could contribute very little to his relief[798]. He, however, had none
of that unsocial shyness which we commonly see in people afflicted with
sickness. He did not hide his head from the world, in solitary
abstraction; he did not deny himself to the visits of his friends and
acquaintances; but at all times, when he was not overcome by sleep, was
ready for conversation as in his best days[799].



'You may perhaps think me negligent that I have not written to you
again[800] upon the loss of your brother; but condolences and
consolations are such common and such useless things, that the omission
of them is no great crime: and my own diseases occupy my mind, and
engage my care. My nights are miserably restless, and my days,
therefore, are heavy. I try, however, to hold up my head as high as
I can[801].

'I am sorry that your health is impaired; perhaps the spring and the
summer may, in some degree, restore it: but if not, we must submit to
the inconveniences of time, as to the other dispensations of Eternal
Goodness. Pray for me, and write to me, or let Mr. Pearson write
for you.

'I am, &c.


'London, Nov. 29, 1783.'

1784: Aetat. 75.--And now I am arrived at the last year of the life of
SAMUEL JOHNSON, a year in which, although passed in severe
indisposition, he nevertheless gave many evidences of the continuance of
those wondrous powers of mind, which raised him so high in the
intellectual world. His conversation and his letters of this year were
in no respect inferiour to those of former years.

The following is a remarkable proof of his being alive to the most
minute curiosities of literature.



'There is in the world a set of books which used to be sold by the
booksellers on the bridge[802], and which I must entreat you to procure
me. They are called _Burton's Books_[803]; the title of one is
_Admirable Curiosities, Rarities, and Wonders in England_. I believe
there are about five or six of them; they seem very proper to allure
backward readers; be so kind as to get them for me, and send me them
with the best printed edition of _Baxter's Call to the Unconverted_.

'I am, &c.


'Jan. 6, 1784.'



'I was very sorry not to see you when you were so kind as to call on me;
but to disappoint friends, and if they are not very good natured, to
disoblige them, is one of the evils of sickness. If you will please to
let me know which of the afternoons in this week I shall be favoured
with another visit by you and Mrs. Perkins, and the young people, I will
take all the measures that I can to be pretty well at that time[804].

'I am, dear Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'Jan. 21, 1784.'

His attention to the Essex-Head Club appears from the following letter
to Mr. Alderman Clark, a gentleman for whom he deservedly entertained a
great regard.



'You will receive a requisition, according to the rules of the Club, to
be at the house as President of the night. This turn comes once a month,
and the member is obliged to attend, or send another in his place. You
were enrolled in the Club by my invitation, and I ought to introduce
you; but as I am hindered by sickness, Mr. Hoole will very properly
supply my place as introductor, or yours as President. I hope in milder
weather to be a very constant attendant.

'I am, Sir, &c.


'Jan. 27, 1784.'

'You ought to be informed that the forfeits began with the year, and
that every night of non-attendance incurs the mulct of three-pence, that
is, nine pence a week.'

On the 8th of January I wrote to him, anxiously inquiring as to his
health, and enclosing my _Letter to the People of Scotland, on the
present state of the nation_[805].

'I trust, (said I,) that you will be liberal enough to make allowance
for my differing from you on two points, (the Middlesex Election, and
the American War[806]) when my general principles of government are
according to your own heart, and when, at a crisis of doubtful event, I
stand forth with honest zeal as an ancient and faithful Briton. My
reason for introducing those two points was, that as my opinions with
regard to them had been declared at the periods when they were least
favourable, I might have the credit of a man who is not a worshipper of
ministerial power.'



'I hear of many enquiries which your kindness has disposed you to make
after me[807]. I have long intended you a long letter, which perhaps the
imagination of its length hindered me from beginning. I will, therefore,
content myself with a shorter.

'Having promoted the institution of a new Club in the neighbourhood, at
the house of an old servant of Thrale's, I went thither to meet the
company, and was seized with a spasmodick asthma so violent, that with
difficulty I got to my own house, in which I have been confined eight or
nine weeks, and from which I know not when I shall be able to go even to
church. The asthma, however, is not the worst. A dropsy gains ground
upon me; my legs and thighs are very much swollen with water, which I
should be content if I could keep there, but I am afraid that it will
soon be higher. My nights are very sleepless and very tedious. And yet I
am extremely afraid of dying.

'My physicians try to make me hope, that much of my malady is the effect
of cold, and that some degree at least of recovery is to be expected
from vernal breezes and summer suns[808]. If my life is prolonged to
autumn, I should be glad to try a warmer climate; though how to travel
with a diseased body, without a companion to conduct me, and with very
little money, I do not well see. Ramsay has recovered his limbs in
Italy[809]; and Fielding was sent to Lisbon, where, indeed, he died; but
he was, I believe, past hope when he went. Think for me what I can do.

'I received your pamphlet, and when I write again may perhaps tell you
some opinion about it; but you will forgive a man struggling with
disease his neglect of disputes, politicks, and pamphlets[810]. Let me
have your prayers. My compliments to your lady, and young ones. Ask
your physicians about my case: and desire Sir Alexander Dick[811] to
write me his opinion.

'I am, dear Sir, &c.


'Feb. 11, 1784.'



'I have been extremely ill of an asthma and dropsy, but received, by the
mercy of GOD, sudden and unexpected relief last Thursday, by the
discharge of twenty pints of water[812]. Whether I shall continue free,
or shall fill again, cannot be told. Pray for me.

'Death, my dear, is very dreadful; let us think nothing worth our care
but how to prepare for it: what we know amiss in ourselves let us make
haste to amend, and put our trust in the mercy of GOD, and the
intercession of our Saviour. I am, dear Madam,

'Your most humble servant,


'Feb. 23, 1784.'



'I have just advanced so far towards recovery as to read a pamphlet; and
you may reasonably suppose that the first pamphlet which I read was
yours. I am very much of your opinion, and, like you, feel great
indignation at the indecency with which the King is every day treated.
Your paper contains very considerable knowledge of history and of the
constitution, very properly produced and applied. It will certainly
raise your character[813], though perhaps it may not make you a
Minister of State.

'I desire you to see Mrs. Stewart once again, and tell her, that in the
letter-case was a letter relating to me, for which I will give her, if
she is willing to give it me, another guinea[814]. The letter is of
consequence only to me.

'I am, dear Sir, &c. 'SAM. JOHNSON.' 'London, Feb. 27, 1784.'

In consequence of Johnson's request that I should ask our physicians
about his case, and desire Sir Alexander Dick to send his opinion, I
transmitted him a letter from that very amiable Baronet, then in his
eighty-first year, with his faculties as entire as ever; and mentioned
his expressions to me in the note accompanying it: 'With my most
affectionate wishes for Dr. Johnson's recovery, in which his friends,
his country, and all mankind have so deep a stake:' and at the same time
a full opinion upon his case by Dr. Gillespie, who, like Dr. Cullen, had
the advantage of having passed through the gradations of surgery and
pharmacy, and by study and practice had attained to such skill, that my
father settled on him two hundred pounds a year for five years, and
fifty pounds a year during his life, as an _honorarium_ to secure his
particular attendance. The opinion was conveyed in a letter to me,
beginning, 'I am sincerely sorry for the bad state of health your very
learned and illustrious friend, Dr. Johnson, labours under at present.'


'Presently after I had sent away my last letter, I received your kind
medical packet. I am very much obliged both to you and your physicians
for your kind attention to my disease. Dr. Gillespie has sent me an
excellent _consilium medicum_, all solid practical experimental
knowledge. I am at present, in the opinion of my physicians, (Dr.
Heberden and Dr. Brocklesby,) as well as my own, going on very
hopefully. I have just begun to take vinegar of squills. The powder hurt
my stomach so much, that it could not be continued.

'Return Sir Alexander Dick my sincere thanks for his kind letter; and
bring with you the rhubarb[815] which he so tenderly offers me.

'I hope dear Mrs. Boswell is now quite well, and that no evil, either
real or imaginary, now disturbs you.

'I am, &c.


'London, March 2, 1784.'

I also applied to three of the eminent physicians who had chairs in our
celebrated school of medicine at Edinburgh, Doctors Cullen, Hope, and
Monro, to each of whom I sent the following letter:--


'Dr. Johnson has been very ill for some time; and in a letter of anxious
apprehension he writes to me, "Ask your physicians about my case."

'This, you see, is not authority for a regular consultation: but I have
no doubt of your readiness to give your advice to a man so eminent, and
who, in his _Life of Garth_, has paid your profession a just and elegant
compliment: "I believe every man has found in physicians great
liberality and dignity of sentiment, very prompt effusions[816] of
beneficence, and willingness to exert a lucrative art, where there is no
hope of lucre."

'Dr. Johnson is aged seventy-four. Last summer he had a stroke of the
palsy, from which he recovered almost entirely. He had, before that,
been troubled with a catarrhous cough. This winter he was seized with a
spasmodick asthma, by which he has been confined to his house for about
three months. Dr. Brocklesby writes to me, that upon the least admission
of cold, there is such a constriction upon his breast, that he cannot
lie down in his bed, but is obliged to sit up all night, and gets rest
and sometimes sleep, only by means of laudanum and syrup of poppies; and
that there are oedematous tumours on his legs and thighs. Dr. Brocklesby
trusts a good deal to the return of mild weather. Dr. Johnson says, that
a dropsy gains ground upon him; and he seems to think that a warmer
climate would do him good. I understand he is now rather better, and is
using vinegar of squills. I am, with great esteem, dear Sir,

'Your most obedient humble servant,


'March 7, 1784.'

All of them paid the most polite attention to my letter, and its
venerable object. Dr. Cullen's words concerning him were, 'It would give
me the greatest pleasure to be of any service to a man whom the publick
properly esteem, and whom I esteem and respect as much as I do Dr.
Johnson.' Dr. Hope's, 'Few people have a better claim on me than your
friend, as hardly a day passes that I do not ask his opinion about this
or that word.' Dr. Monro's, 'I most sincerely join you in sympathizing
with that very worthy and ingenious character, from whom his country has
derived much instruction and entertainment.'

Dr. Hope corresponded with his friend Dr. Brocklesby. Doctors Cullen and
Monro wrote their opinions and prescriptions to me, which I afterwards
carried with me to London, and, so far as they were encouraging,
communicated to Johnson. The liberality on one hand, and grateful sense
of it on the other, I have great satisfaction in recording.



'I am too much pleased with the attention which you and your dear
lady[817] show to my welfare, not to be diligent in letting you know the
progress which I make towards health. The dropsy, by GOD'S blessing, has
now run almost totally away by natural evacuation; and the asthma, if
not irritated by cold, gives me little trouble. While I am writing this,
I have not any sensation of debility or disease. But I do not yet
venture out, having been confined to the house from the thirteenth of
December, now a quarter of a year.

'When it will be fit for me to travel as far as Auchinleck, I am not
able to guess; but such a letter as Mrs. Boswell's might draw any man,
not wholly motionless, a great way. Pray tell the dear lady how much her
civility and kindness have touched and gratified me.

'Our parliamentary tumults have now begun to subside, and the King's
authority is in some measure re-established[818]. Mr. Pitt will have
great power: but you must remember, that what he has to give must, at
least for some time, be given to those who gave, and those who preserve,
his power. A new minister can sacrifice little to esteem or friendship;
he must, till he is settled, think only of extending his interest.

       *       *       *       *       *

'If you come hither through Edinburgh, send for Mrs. Stewart, and give
from me another guinea for the letter in the old case, to which I shall
not be satisfied with my claim, till she gives it me.

'Please to bring with you Baxter's _Anacreon_[819]; and if you procure
heads of _Hector Boece_[820], the historian, and _Arthur Johnston_[821],
the poet, I will put them in my room[822]; or any other of the fathers
of Scottish literature.

'I wish you an easy and happy journey, and hope I need not tell you that
you will be welcome to, dear Sir,

'Your most affectionate, humble servant,


'London, March 18, 1784.'

I wrote to him, March 28, from York, informing him that I had a high
gratification in the triumph of monarchical principles over
aristocratical influence, in that great country, in an address to the
King[823]; that I was thus far on my way to him, but that news of the
dissolution of Parliament having arrived, I was to hasten back to my own
county, where I had carried an Address to his Majesty by a great
majority, and had some intention of being a candidate to represent the
county in Parliament.



'You could do nothing so proper as to haste back when you found the
Parliament dissolved. With the influence which your Address must have
gained you, it may reasonably be expected that your presence will be of
importance, and your activity of effect.

'Your solicitude for me gives me that pleasure which every man feels
from the kindness of such a friend: and it is with delight I relieve it
by telling, that Dr. Brocklesby's account is true, and that I am, by the
blessing of GOD, wonderfully relieved.

'You are entering upon a transaction which requires much prudence. You
must endeavour to oppose without exasperating; to practise temporary
hostility, without producing enemies for life. This is, perhaps, hard to
be done; yet it has been done by many, and seems most likely to be
effected by opposing merely upon general principles, without descending
to personal or particular censures or objections. One thing I must
enjoin you, which is seldom observed in the conduct of elections;--I
must entreat you to be scrupulous in the use of strong liquors. One
night's drunkenness may defeat the labours of forty days well employed.
Be firm, but not clamorous; be active, but not malicious; and you may
form such an interest, as may not only exalt yourself, but dignify
your family.

'We are, as you may suppose, all busy here. Mr. Fox resolutely stands
for Westminster, and his friends say will carry the election[824].
However that be, he will certainly have a seat[825]. Mr. Hoole has just
told me, that the city leans towards the King.

'Let me hear, from time to time, how you are employed, and what progress
you make.

'Make dear Mrs. Boswell, and all the young Boswells, the sincere
compliments of, Sir, your affectionate humble servant,


'London, March 30, 1784.'

To Mr. Langton he wrote with that cordiality which was suitable to the
long friendship which had subsisted between him and that

March 27. 'Since you left me, I have continued in my own opinion, and in
Dr, Brocklesby's, to grow better with respect to all my formidable and
dangerous distempers: though to a body battered and shaken as mine has
lately been, it is to be feared that weak attacks may be sometimes
mischievous. I have, indeed, by standing carelessly at an open window,
got a very troublesome cough, which it has been necessary to appease by
opium, in larger quantities than I like to take, and I have not found it
give way so readily as I expected; its obstinacy, however, seems at last
disposed to submit to the remedy, and I know not whether I should then
have a right to complain of any morbid sensation. My asthma is, I am
afraid, constitutional and incurable; but it is only occasional, and
unless it be excited by labour or by cold, gives me no molestation, nor
does it lay very close siege to life; for Sir John Floyer[827], whom the
physical race consider as authour of one of the best books upon it,
panted on to ninety, as was supposed; and why were we content with
supposing a fact so interesting, of a man so conspicuous? because he
corrupted, at perhaps seventy or eighty, the register, that he might
pass for younger than he was. He was not much less than eighty, when to
a man of rank who modestly asked his age, he answered, "Go look;" though
he was in general a man of civility and elegance.

'The ladies, I find, are at your house all well, except Miss Langton,
who will probably soon recover her health by light suppers. Let her eat
at dinner as she will, but not take a full stomach to bed. Pay my
sincere respects to dear Miss Langton in Lincolnshire, let her know that
I mean not to break our league of friendship, and that I have a set of
_Lives_ for her, when I have the means of sending it.'

April 8. 'I am still disturbed by my cough; but what thanks have I not
to pay, when my cough is the most painful sensation that I feel? and
from that I expect hardly to be released, while winter continues to
gripe us with so much pertinacity. The year has now advanced eighteen
days beyond the equinox, and still there is very little remission of the
cold. When warm weather comes, which surely must come at last, I hope it
will help both me and your young lady.

'The man so busy about addresses is neither more nor less than our own
Boswell, who had come as far as York towards London, but turned back on
the dissolution, and is said now to stand for some place. Whether to
wish him success, his best friends hesitate.

'Let me have your prayers for the completion of my recovery: I am now
better than I ever expected to have been. May GOD add to his mercies
the grace that may enable me to use them according to his will. My
compliments to all.'

April 13. 'I had this evening a note from Lord Portmore[828], desiring
that I would give you an account of my health. You might have had it
with less circumduction. I am, by GOD'S blessing, I believe, free from
all morbid sensations, except a cough, which is only troublesome. But I
am still weak, and can have no great hope of strength till the weather
shall be softer. The summer, if it be kindly, will, I hope, enable me to
support the winter. GOD, who has so wonderfully restored me, can
preserve me in all seasons.

'Let me enquire in my turn after the state of your family, great and
little. I hope Lady Rothes and Miss Langton are both well. That is a
good basis of content. Then how goes George on with his studies? How
does Miss Mary? And how does my own Jenny? I think I owe Jenny a letter,
which I will take care to pay. In the mean time tell her that I
acknowledge the debt.

'Be pleased to make my compliments to the ladies. If Mrs. Langton comes
to London, she will favour me with a visit, for I am not well enough
to go out.'



'Mr. Hoole has told me with what benevolence you listened to a request
which I was almost afraid to make, of leave to a young painter[830] to
attend you from time to time in your painting-room, to see your
operations, and receive your instructions[831].

'The young man has perhaps good parts, but has been without a regular
education. He is my god-son, and therefore I interest myself in his
progress and success, and shall think myself much favoured if I receive
from you a permission to send him.

'My health is, by GOD'S blessing, much restored, but I am not yet
allowed by my physicians to go abroad; nor, indeed, do I think myself
yet able to endure the weather.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'April 5, 1784.'



'The bearer is my god-son, whom I take the liberty of recommending to
your kindness; which I hope he will deserve by his respect to your
excellence, and his gratitude for your favours.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'April 10, 1784.'



'I am very much obliged by your civilities to my god-son, but must beg
of you to add to them the favour of permitting him to see you paint,
that he may know how a picture is begun, advanced and completed.

'If he may attend you in a few of your operations, I hope he will shew
that the benefit has been properly conferred, both by his proficiency
and his gratitude. At least I shall consider you as enlarging your
kindness to, Sir,

'Your humble servant,


'May 31, 1784.'



'What can be the reason that I hear nothing from you? I hope nothing
disables you from writing. What I have seen, and what I have felt, gives
me reason to fear every thing. Do not omit giving me the comfort of
knowing, that after all my losses I have yet a friend left.

'I want every comfort. My life is very solitary and very cheerless.
Though it has pleased GOD wonderfully to deliver me from the dropsy, I
am yet very weak, and have not passed the door since the 13th of
December[832]. I hope for some help from warm weather, which will surely
come in time.

'I could not have the consent of the physicians to go to church
yesterday; I therefore received the holy sacrament at home, in the room
where I communicated with dear Mrs. Williams, a little before her death.
O! my friend, the approach of death is very dreadful. I am afraid to
think on that which I know I cannot avoid. It is vain to look round and
round for that help which cannot be had. Yet we hope and hope, and fancy
that he who has lived to-day may live to-morrow. But let us learn to
derive our hope only from GOD.

'In the mean time, let us be kind to one another. I have no friend now
living but you and Mr. Hector, that was the friend of my youth. Do not
neglect, dear Sir,

'Yours affectionately,

'SAM. JOHNSON[833].'

'London, Easter-Monday,

April 12, 1784.'

What follows is a beautiful specimen of his gentleness and complacency
to a young lady his god-child, one of the daughters of his friend Mr.
Langton, then I think in her seventh year. He took the trouble to write
it in a large round hand, nearly resembling printed characters, that she
might have the satisfaction of reading it herself. The original lies
before me, but shall be faithfully restored to her; and I dare say will
be preserved by her as a jewel as long as she lives[834].



'I am sorry that your pretty letter has been so long without being
answered; but, when I am not pretty well, I do not always write plain
enough for young ladies. I am glad, my dear, to see that you write so
well, and hope that you mind your pen, your book, and your needle, for
they are all necessary. Your books will give you knowledge, and make you
respected; and your needle will find you useful employment when you do
not care to read. When you are a little older, I hope you will be very
diligent in learning arithmetick[835], and, above all, that through your
whole life you will carefully say your prayers, and read your Bible.

'I am, my dear,

'Your most humble servant,


'May 10, 1784.'

On Wednesday, May 5, I arrived in London, and next morning had the
pleasure to find Dr. Johnson greatly recovered. I but just saw him; for
a coach was waiting to carry him to Islington, to the house of his
friend the Reverend Mr. Strahan, where he went sometimes for the benefit
of good air, which, notwithstanding his having formerly laughed at the
general opinion upon the subject, he now acknowledged was conducive
to health.

One morning afterwards, when I found him alone, he communicated to me,
with solemn earnestness, a very remarkable circumstance which had
happened in the course of his illness, when he was much distressed by
the dropsy. He had shut himself up, and employed a day in particular
exercises of religion,--fasting, humiliation, and prayer. On a sudden he
obtained extraordinary relief, for which he looked up to Heaven with
grateful devotion. He made no direct inference from this fact; but from
his manner of telling it, I could perceive that it appeared to him as
something more than an incident in the common course of events[836]. For
my own part, I have no difficulty to avow that cast of thinking, which
by many modern pretenders to wisdom is called _superstitious_. But here
I think even men of dry rationality may believe, that there was an
intermediate[837] interposition of Divine Providence, and that 'the
fervent prayer of this righteous man[838]' availed[839].

On Sunday, May 9, I found Colonel Valiancy, the celebrated antiquarian
and Engineer of Ireland, with him. On Monday, the 10th, I dined with him
at Mr. Paradise's, where was a large company; Mr. Bryant, Mr. Joddrel,
Mr. Hawkins Browne, &c. On Thursday, the 13th, I dined with him at Mr.
Joddrel's, with another large company; the Bishop of Exeter, Lord
Monboddo[840], Mr. Murphy, &c.

On Saturday, May 15[841], I dined with him at Dr. Brocklesby's, where
were Colonel Vallancy, Mr. Murphy, and that ever-cheerful companion Mr.
Devaynes, apothecary to his Majesty. Of these days, and others on which
I saw him, I have no memorials, except the general recollection of his
being able and animated in conversation, and appearing to relish society
as much as the youngest man. I find only these three small
particulars:--When a person was mentioned, who said, 'I have lived
fifty-one years in this world without having had ten minutes of
uneasiness;' he exclaimed, 'The man who says so, lies: he attempts to
impose on human credulity.' The Bishop of Exeter in vain observed, that
men were very different. His Lordship's manner was not impressive, and
I learnt afterwards that Johnson did not find out that the person who
talked to him was a Prelate; if he had, I doubt not that he would have
treated him with more respect; for once talking of George
Psalmanazar[842], whom he reverenced for his piety, he said, 'I should
as soon think of contradicting a BISHOP[843].' One of the company[844]
provoked him greatly by doing what he could least of all bear, which was
quoting something of his own writing, against what he then maintained.
'What, Sir, (cried the gentleman,) do you say to

     "The busy day, the peaceful night,
      Unfelt, uncounted, glided by[845]?"'--

Johnson finding himself thus presented as giving an instance of a man
who had lived without uneasiness, was much offended, for he looked upon
such a quotation as unfair. His anger burst out in an unjustifiable
retort, insinuating that the gentleman's remark was a sally of ebriety;
'Sir, there is one passion I would advise you to command: when you have
drunk out that glass, don't drink another[846].' Here was exemplified
what Goldsmith said of him, with the aid of a very witty image from one
of Cibber's Comedies: 'There is no arguing with Johnson; for if his
pistol misses fire, he knocks you down with the butt end of it[847].'
Another was this: when a gentleman[848] of eminence in the literary
world was violently censured for attacking people by anonymous
paragraphs in newspapers; he, from the spirit of contradiction as I
thought, took up his defence, and said, 'Come, come, this is not so
terrible a crime; he means only to vex them a little. I do not say that
I should do it; but there is a great difference between him and me; what
is fit for Hephaestion is not fit for Alexander.' Another, when I told
him that a young and handsome Countess had said to me, 'I should think
that to be praised by Dr. Johnson would make one a fool all one's life;'
and that I answered, 'Madam, I shall make him a fool to-day, by
repeating this to him,' he said, 'I am too old to be made a fool; but if
you say I am made a fool, I shall not deny it. I am much pleased with a
compliment, especially from a pretty woman.'

On the evening of Saturday, May 15, he was in fine spirits, at our
Essex-Head Club. He told us, 'I dined yesterday at Mrs. Garrick's, with
Mrs. Carter[849], Miss Hannah More, and Miss Fanny Burney. Three such
women are not to be found: I know not where I could find a fourth,
except Mrs. Lennox, who is superiour to them all[850].' BOSWELL. 'What!
had you them all to yourself, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'I had them all as much as
they were had; but it might have been better had there been more company
there.' BOSWELL. 'Might not Mrs. Montagu have been a fourth?' JOHNSON.
'Sir, Mrs. Montagu does not make a trade of her wit; but Mrs. Montagu is
a very extraordinary woman; she has a constant stream of conversation,
and it is always impregnated; it has always meaning[851].' BOSWELL. 'Mr.
Burke has a constant stream of conversation.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir; if a
man were to go by chance at the same time with Burke under a shed, to
shun a shower, he would say--"this is an extraordinary man." If Burke
should go into a stable to see his horse drest, the ostler would
say--we have had an extraordinary man here[852].' BOSWELL. 'Foote was a
man who never failed in conversation. If he had gone into a stable--'
JOHNSON. 'Sir, if he had gone into a stable, the ostler would have said,
here has been a comical fellow; but he would not have respected him.'
BOSWELL. 'And, Sir, the ostler would have answered him, would have given
him as good as he brought, as the common saying is.' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir;
and Foote would have answered the ostler.--When Burke does not descend
to be merry, his conversation is very superiour indeed. There is no
proportion between the powers which he shews in serious talk and in
jocularity. When he lets himself down to that, he is in the
kennel[853].' I have in another place[854] opposed, and I hope with
success, Dr. Johnson's very singular and erroneous notion as to Mr.
Burke's pleasantry. Mr. Windham now said low to me, that he differed
from our great friend in this observation; for that Mr. Burke was often
very happy in his merriment. It would not have been right for either of
us to have contradicted Johnson at this time, in a Society all of whom
did not know and value Mr. Burke as much as we did. It might have
occasioned something more rough, and at any rate would probably have
checked the flow of Johnson's good-humour. He called to us with a sudden
air of exultation, as the thought started into his mind, 'O! Gentlemen,
I must tell you a very great thing. The Empress of Russia has ordered
the _Rambler_ to be translated into the Russian language[855]: so I
shall be read on the banks of the Wolga. Horace boasts that his fame
would extend as far as the banks of the Rhone[856]; now the Wolga is
farther from me than the Rhone was from Horace.' BOSWELL. 'You must
certainly be pleased with this, Sir.' JOHNSON. 'I am pleased Sir, to be
sure. A man is pleased to find he has succeeded in that which he has
endeavoured to do.'

One of the company mentioned his having seen a noble person driving in
his carriage, and looking exceedingly well, notwithstanding his great
age. JOHNSON. 'Ah, Sir; that is nothing. Bacon observes, that a stout
healthy old man is like a tower undermined.'

On Sunday, May 16, I found him alone; he talked of Mrs. Thrale with much
concern, saying, 'Sir, she has done every thing wrong, since Thrale's
bridle was off her neck;' and was proceeding to mention some
circumstances which have since been the subject of publick
discussion[857], when he was interrupted by the arrival of Dr. Douglas,
now Bishop of Salisbury.

Dr. Douglas, upon this occasion, refuted a mistaken notion which is very
common in Scotland, that the ecclesiastical discipline of the Church of
England, though duly enforced, is insufficient to preserve the morals of
the clergy, inasmuch as all delinquents may be screened by appealing to
the Convocation, which being never authorized by the King to sit for
the dispatch of business, the appeal never can be heard. Dr. Douglas
observed, that this was founded upon ignorance; for that the Bishops
have sufficient power to maintain discipline, and that the sitting of
the Convocation was wholly immaterial in this respect, it being not a
Court of judicature, but like a parliament, to make Canons and
regulations as times may require.

Johnson, talking of the fear of death, said, 'Some people are not
afraid, because they look upon salvation as the effect of an absolute
decree, and think they feel in themselves the marks of sanctification.
Others, and those the most rational in my opinion, look upon salvation
as conditional; and as they never can be sure that they have complied
with the conditions, they are afraid[858].'

In one of his little manuscript diaries, about this time, I find a short
notice, which marks his amiable disposition more certainly than a
thousand studied declarations.--'Afternoon spent cheerfully and
elegantly, I hope without offence to GOD or man; though in no holy duty,
yet in the general exercise and cultivation of benevolence.'

On Monday, May 17, I dined with him at Mr. Dilly's, where were Colonel
Valiancy, the Reverend Dr. Gibbons[859], and Mr. Capel Lofft, who,
though a most zealous Whig, has a mind so full of learning and
knowledge, and so much exercised in various departments, and withal so
much liberality, that the stupendous powers of the literary Goliath,
though they did not frighten this little David of popular spirit, could
not but excite his admiration[860]. There was also Mr. Braithwaite of
the Post-office, that amiable and friendly man, who, with modest and
unassuming manners, has associated with many of the wits of the age.
Johnson was very quiescent to-day. Perhaps too I was indolent. I find
nothing more of him in my notes, but that when I mentioned that I had
seen in the King's library sixty-three editions of my favourite _Thomas
à Kempis_, amongst which it was in eight languages, Latin, German,
French, Italian, Spanish, English, Arabick, and Armenian, he said, he
thought it unnecessary to collect many editions of a book, which were
all the same, except as to the paper and print; he would have the
original, and all the translations, and all the editions which had any
variations in the text. He approved of the famous collection of editions
of _Horace_ by Douglas, mentioned by Pope[861], who is said to have had
a closet filled with them; and he added, 'every man should try to
collect one book in that manner, and present it to a publick library.'

On Tuesday, May 18, I saw him for a short time in the morning. I told
him that the mob had called out, as the King passed[862], 'No Fox--No
Fox,' which I did not like. He said, 'They were right, Sir.' I said, I
thought not; for it seemed to be making Mr. Fox the King's
competitor[863]. There being no audience, so that there could be no
triumph in a victory, he fairly agreed with me[864]. I said it might do
very well, if explained thus:--'Let us have no Fox;' understanding it as
a prayer to his Majesty not to appoint that gentleman minister.

On Wednesday, May 19, I sat a part of the evening with him, by
ourselves. I observed, that the death of our friends might be a
consolation against the fear of our own dissolution, because we might
have more friends in the other world than in this. He perhaps felt this
as a reflection upon his apprehension as to death; and said, with heat,
'How can a man know _where_ his departed friends are, or whether they
will be his friends in the other world[865]? How many friendships have
you known formed upon principles of virtue? Most friendships are formed
by caprice or by chance, mere confederacies in vice or leagues
in folly.'

We talked of our worthy friend Mr. Langton. He said, 'I know not who
will go to Heaven if Langton does not. Sir, I could almost say, _Sit
anima mea cum Langtono_' I mentioned a very eminent friend[866] a
virtuous man. JOHNSON. 'Yes, Sir; but ---- has not the evangelical
virtue of Langton. ----, I am afraid, would not scruple to pick up
a wench.'

He however charged Mr. Langton with what he thought want of judgement
upon an interesting occasion. 'When I was ill, (said he) I desired he
would tell me sincerely in what he thought my life was faulty. Sir, he
brought me a sheet of paper, on which he had written down several texts
of Scripture, recommending christian charity. And when I questioned him
what occasion I had given for such an animadversion, all that he could
say amounted to this,--that I sometimes contradicted people in
conversation. Now what harm does it do to any man to be contradicted?'
BOSWELL. 'I suppose he meant the _manner_ of doing it; roughly,--and
harshly.' JOHNSON. 'And who is the worse for that?' BOSWELL. 'It hurts
people of weak nerves.' JOHNSON. 'I know no such weak-nerved
people[867].' Mr. Burke, to whom I related this conference, said, 'It is
well, if when a man comes to die, he has nothing heavier upon his
conscience than having been a little rough in conversation.'

Johnson, at the time when the paper was presented to him, though at
first pleased with the attention of his friend, whom he thanked in an
earnest manner, soon exclaimed, in a loud and angry tone, 'What is your
drift, Sir?' Sir Joshua Reynolds pleasantly observed, that it was a
scene for a comedy, to see a penitent get into a violent passion and
belabour his confessor[868].

I have preserved no more of his conversation at the times when I saw him
during the rest of this month, till Sunday, the 30th of May, when I met
him in the evening at Mr. Hoole's, where there was a large company both
of ladies and gentlemen; Sir James Johnston[869] happened to say, that
he paid no regard to the arguments of counsel at the bar of the House of
Commons, because they were paid for speaking. 'JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir,
argument is argument. You cannot help paying regard to their arguments,
if they are good. If it were testimony, you might disregard it, if you
knew that it were purchased. There is a beautiful image in Bacon[870]
upon this subject: testimony is like an arrow shot from a long bow; the
force of it depends on the strength of the hand that draws it. Argument
is like an arrow from a cross-bow, which has equal force though shot
by a child.'

He had dined that day at Mr. Hoole's, and Miss Helen Maria Williams
being expected in the evening, Mr. Hoole put into his hands her
beautiful _Ode on the Peace_[871]: Johnson read it over, and when this
elegant and accomplished young lady[872] was presented to him, he took
her by the hand in the most courteous manner, and repeated the finest
stanza of her poem; this was the most delicate and pleasing compliment
he could pay. Her respectable friend, Dr. Kippis, from whom I had this
anecdote, was standing by, and was not a little gratified.

Miss Williams told me, that the only other time she was fortunate enough
to be in Dr. Johnson's company, he asked her to sit down by him, which
she did, and upon her enquiring how he was, he answered, 'I am very ill
indeed, Madam. I am very ill even when you are near me; what should I be
were you at a distance?'[873]

He had now a great desire to go to Oxford, as his first jaunt after his
illness; we talked of it for some days, and I had promised to accompany
him. He was impatient, and fretful to-night, because I did not at once
agree to go with him on Thursday. When I considered how ill he had been,
and what allowance should be made for the influence of sickness upon his
temper, I resolved to indulge him, though with some inconvenience to
myself, as I wished to attend the musical meeting in honour of
Handel[874], in Westminster-Abbey, on the following Saturday.

In the midst of his own diseases and pains, he was ever compassionate to
the distresses of others, and actively earnest in procuring them aid, as
appears from a note to Sir Joshua Reynolds, of June, in these words:--'I
am ashamed to ask for some relief for a poor man, to whom, I hope, I
have given what I can be expected to spare. The man importunes me, and
the blow goes round. I am going to try another air on Thursday.'

On Thursday, June 3, the Oxford post-coach took us up in the morning at
Bolt-court. The other two passengers were Mrs. Beresford and her
daughter, two very agreeable ladies from America; they were going to
Worcestershire, where they then resided. Frank had been sent by his
master the day before to take places for us; and I found, from the
way-bill, that Dr. Johnson had made our names be put down. Mrs.
Beresford, who had read it, whispered me, 'Is this the great Dr.
Johnson?' I told her it was; so she was then prepared to listen. As she
soon happened to mention in a voice so low that Johnson did not hear it,
that her husband had been a member of the American Congress, I cautioned
her to beware of introducing that subject, as she must know how very
violent Johnson was against the people of that country. He talked a
great deal, but I am sorry I have preserved little of the conversation.
Miss Beresford was so much charmed, that she said to me aside, 'How he
does talk! Every sentence is an essay.' She amused herself in the coach
with knotting; he would scarcely allow this species of employment any
merit. 'Next to mere idleness (said he) I think knotting is to be
reckoned in the scale of insignificance; though I once attempted to
learn knotting. Dempster's sister (looking to me) endeavoured to teach
me it; but I made no progress[875].'

I was surprised at his talking without reserve in the publick post-coach
of the state of his affairs; 'I have (said he) about the world I think
above a thousand pounds, which I intend shall afford Frank an annuity of
seventy pounds a year.' Indeed his openness with people at a first
interview was remarkable. He said once to Mr. Langton, 'I think I am
like Squire Richard in _The Journey to London, "I'm never strange in a
strange place_[876]."' He was truly _social_. He strongly censured what
is much too common in England among persons of condition,--maintaining
an absolute silence, when unknown to each other; as for instance, when
occasionally brought together in a room before the master or mistress of
the house has appeared. 'Sir, that is being so uncivilised as not to
understand the common rights of humanity[877].'

At the inn where we stopped he was exceedingly dissatisfied with some
roast mutton which we had for dinner. The ladies I saw wondered to see
the great philosopher, whose wisdom and wit they had been admiring all
the way, get into ill-humour from such a cause. He scolded the waiter,
saying, 'It is as bad as bad can be: it is ill-fed, ill-killed,
ill-kept, and ill-drest[878].'

He bore the journey very well, and seemed to feel himself elevated as he
approached Oxford, that magnificent and venerable seat of learning,
Orthodoxy, and Toryism. Frank came in the heavy coach, in readiness to
attend him; and we were received with the most polite hospitality at the
house of his old friend Dr. Adams, Master of Pembroke College, who had
given us a kind invitation. Before we were set down, I communicated to
Johnson, my having engaged to return to London directly, for the reason
I have mentioned, but that I would hasten back to him again. He was
pleased that I had made this journey merely to keep him company. He was
easy and placid, with Dr. Adams, Mrs. and Miss Adams, and Mrs. Kennicot,
widow of the learned Hebraean[879], who was here on a visit. He soon
dispatched the inquiries which were made about his illness and recovery,
by a short and distinct narrative; and then assuming a gay air, repeated
from Swift,--

     'Nor think on our approaching ills,
      And talk of spectacles and pills[880].'

Dr. Newton, the Bishop of Bristol, having been mentioned, Johnson,
recollecting the manner in which he had been censured by that
Prelate[881], thus retaliated:-' Tom knew he should be dead before what
he has said of me would appear. He durst not have printed it while he
was alive.' DR. ADAMS. 'I believe his _Dissertations on the Prophecies_
is his great work.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Sir, it is Tom's great work; but how
far it is great, or how much of it is Tom's, are other questions. I
fancy a considerable part of it was borrowed.' DR. ADAMS. 'He was a very
successful man.' JOHNSON. 'I don't think so, Sir. He did not get very
high. He was late in getting what he did get; and he did not get it by
the best means. I believe he was a gross flatterer[882].'

I fulfilled my intention by going to London, and returned to Oxford on
Wednesday the 9th of June, when I was happy to find myself again in the
same agreeable circle at Pembroke College, with the comfortable prospect
of making some stay. Johnson welcomed my return with more than
ordinary glee.

He talked with great regard of the Honourable Archibald Campbell, whose
character he had given at the Duke of Argyll's table, when we were at
Inverary[883]; and at this time wrote out for me, in his own hand, a
fuller account of that learned and venerable writer, which I have
published in its proper place. Johnson made a remark this evening which
struck me a good deal. 'I never (said he) knew a non-juror who could
reason[884].' Surely he did not mean to deny that faculty to many of
their writers; to Hickes, Brett[885], and other eminent divines of that
persuasion; and did not recollect that the seven Bishops, so justly
celebrated for their magnanimous resistance of arbitrary power, were yet
Nonjurors to the new Government[886]. The nonjuring clergy of Scotland,
indeed, who, excepting a few, have lately, by a sudden stroke, cut off
all ties of allegiance to the house of Stuart, and resolved to pray for
our present lawful Sovereign by name, may be thought to have confirmed
this remark; as it may be said, that the divine indefeasible hereditary
right which they professed to believe, if ever true, must be equally
true still. Many of my readers will be surprized when I mention, that
Johnson assured me he had never in his life been in a nonjuring

Next morning at breakfast, he pointed out a passage in Savage's
_Wanderer_, saying, 'These are fine verses.' 'If (said he) I had written
with hostility of Warburton in my _Shakspeare_, I should have quoted
this couplet:--

     "Here Learning, blinded first and then beguil'd,
      Looks dark as Ignorance, as Fancy wild[888]."

You see they'd have fitted him to a _T_,' (smiling.) DR. ADAMS. 'But you
did not write against Warburton.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir, I treated him with
great respect both in my Preface and in my Notes[889].'

Mrs. Kennicot spoke of her brother, the Reverend Mr. Chamberlayne, who
had given up great prospects in the Church of England on his conversion
to the Roman Catholick faith. Johnson, who warmly admired every man who
acted from a conscientious regard to principle, erroneous or not,
exclaimed fervently, 'GOD bless him.'

Mrs. Kennicot, in confirmation of Dr. Johnson's opinion[890], that the
present was not worse than former ages, mentioned that her brother
assured her, there was now less infidelity on the Continent than there
had been; Voltaire and Rousseau were less read. I asserted, from good
authority, that Hume's infidelity was certainly less read. JOHNSON. 'All
infidel writers drop into oblivion, when personal connections and the
floridness of novelty are gone; though now and then a foolish fellow,
who thinks he can be witty upon them, may bring them again into notice.
There will sometimes start up a College joker, who does not consider
that what is a joke in a College will not do in the world. To such
defenders of Religion I would apply a stanza of a poem which I remember
to have seen in some old collection:--

     "Henceforth be quiet and agree,
        Each kiss his empty brother;
      Religion scorns a foe like thee,
        But dreads a friend like t'other."

The point is well, though the expression is not correct; _one_, and not
_thee, should be opposed to _t'other_[891].'

On the Roman Catholick religion he said, 'If you join the Papists
externally, they will not interrogate you strictly as to your belief in
their tenets. No reasoning Papist believes every article of their faith.
There is one side on which a good man might be persuaded to embrace it.
A good man of a timorous disposition, in great doubt of his acceptance
with GOD, and pretty credulous, might be glad to be of a church where
there, are so many helps to get to Heaven. I would be a Papist if I
could. I have fear enough; but an obstinate rationality prevents me. I
shall never be a Papist, unless on the near approach of death, of which
I have a very great terrour. I wonder that women are not all Papists.'
BOSWELL. 'They are not more afraid of death than men are.' JOHNSON.
'Because they are less wicked.' DR. ADAMS. 'They are more pious.'
JOHNSON. 'No, hang 'em, they are not more pious. A wicked fellow is the
most pious when he takes to it. He'll beat you all at piety.'

He argued in defence of some of the peculiar tenets of the Church of
Rome. As to the giving the bread only to the laity, he said, 'They may
think, that in what is merely ritual, deviations from the primitive mode
may be admitted on the ground of convenience, and I think they are as
well warranted to make this alteration, as we are to substitute
sprinkling in the room of the ancient baptism.' As to the invocation of
saints[892], he said, 'Though I do not think it authorised, it appears
to me, that "the communion of saints" in the Creed means the communion
with the saints in Heaven, as connected with "The holy Catholick
Church[893]."' He admitted the influence of evil spirits[894] upon our
minds, and said, 'Nobody who believes the New Testament can deny it.'

I brought a volume of Dr. Hurd the Bishop of Worcester's _Sermons_, and
read to the company some passages from one of them, upon this text,
'_Resist the Devil, and he will fly[895] from you.' James_, iv. 7. I was
happy to produce so judicious and elegant a supporter[896] of a
doctrine, which, I know not why, should, in this world of imperfect
knowledge, and, therefore, of wonder and mystery in a thousand
instances, be contested by some with an unthinking assurance and

After dinner, when one of us talked of there being a great enmity
between Whig and Tory;--JOHNSON. 'Why not so much, I think, unless when
they come into competition with each other. There is none when they are
only common acquaintance, none when they are of different sexes. A Tory
will marry into a Whig family, and a Whig into a Tory family, without
any reluctance. But indeed, in a matter of much more concern than
political tenets, and that is religion, men and women do not concern
themselves much about difference of opinion; and ladies set no value on
the moral character of men who pay their addresses to them; the greatest
profligate will be as well received as the man of the greatest virtue,
and this by a very good woman, by a woman who says her prayers three
times a day.' Our ladies endeavoured to defend their sex from this
charge; but he roared them down! 'No, no, a lady will take Jonathan Wild
as readily as St. Austin, if he has three-pence more; and, what is
worse, her parents will give her to him. Women have a perpetual envy of
our vices; they are less vicious than we, not from choice, but because
we restrict them; they are the slaves of order and fashion; their virtue
is of more consequence to us than our own, so far as concerns
this world.'

Miss Adams mentioned a gentleman of licentious character, and said,
'Suppose I had a mind to marry that gentleman, would my parents
consent?' JOHNSON. 'Yes, they'd consent, and you'd go. You'd go though
they did not consent.' MISS ADAMS. 'Perhaps their opposing might make me
go.' JOHNSON. 'O, very well; you'd take one whom you think a bad man, to
have the pleasure of vexing your parents. You put me in mind of Dr.
Barrowby[897], the physician, who was very fond of swine's flesh. One
day, when he was eating it, he said, 'I wish I was a Jew.' 'Why so?
(said somebody); the Jews are not allowed to eat your favourite meat.'
'Because, (said he,) I should then have the gust of eating it, with the
pleasure of sinning.' Johnson then proceeded in his declamation.

Miss Adams soon afterwards made an observation that I do not recollect,
which pleased him much: he said with a good-humoured smile, 'That there
should be so much excellence united with so much _depravity_,
is strange.'

Indeed, this lady's good qualities, merit, and accomplishments, and her
constant attention to Dr. Johnson, were not lost upon him. She happened
to tell him that a little coffee-pot, in which she had made his coffee,
was the only thing she could call her own. He turned to her with a
complacent gallantry, 'Don't say so, my dear; I hope you don't reckon my
heart as nothing.'

I asked him if it was true as reported, that he had said lately, 'I am
for the King against Fox; but I am for Fox against Pitt.' JOHNSON. 'Yes,
Sir; the King is my master; but I do not know Pitt; and Fox is my

'Fox, (added he,) is a most extraordinary man; here is a man (describing
him in strong terms of objection in some respects according as he
apprehended, but which exalted his abilities the more) who has divided
the Kingdom with Caesar[899]; so that it, was a doubt whether the nation
should be ruled by the sceptre of George the Third, or the tongue
of Fox.'

Dr. Wall, physician at Oxford, drank tea with us. Johnson had in
general a peculiar pleasure in the company of physicians, which was
certainly not abated by the conversation of this learned, ingenious, and
pleasing gentleman. Johnson said, 'It is wonderful how little good
Radcliffe's travelling fellowships[900] have done. I know nothing that
has been imported by them; yet many additions to our medical knowledge
might be got in foreign countries. Inoculation, for instance, has saved
more lives than war destroys[901]: and the cures performed by the
Peruvian-bark are innumerable. But it is in vain to send our travelling
physicians to France, and Italy, and Germany, for all that is known
there is known here; I'd send them out of Christendom; I'd send them
among barbarous nations.'

On Friday, June 11, we talked at breakfast, of forms of prayer. JOHNSON.
'I know of no good prayers but those in the _Book of Common Prayer_.'
DR. ADAMS, (in a very earnest manner): 'I wish, Sir, you would compose
some family prayers.' JOHNSON. 'I will not compose prayers for you, Sir,
because you can do it for yourself. But I have thought of getting
together all the books of prayers which I could, selecting those which
should appear to me the best, putting out some, inserting others, adding
some prayers of my own, and prefixing a discourse on prayer.' We all now
gathered about him, and two or three of us at a time joined in pressing
him to execute this plan. He seemed to be a little displeased at the
manner of our importunity, and in great agitation called out, 'Do not
talk thus of what is so aweful. I know not what time GOD will allow me
in this world. There are many things which I wish to do.' Some of us
persisted, and Dr. Adams said, 'I never was more serious about any thing
in my life.' JOHNSON. 'Let me alone, let me alone; I am overpowered.'
And then he put his hands before his face, and reclined for some time
upon the table[902].

I mentioned Jeremy Taylor's using, in his forms of prayer, 'I am the
chief of sinners,' and other such self-condemning expressions[903].
'Now, (said I) this cannot be said with truth by every man, and
therefore is improper for a general printed form. I myself cannot say
that I am the worst of men; I _will_ not say so.' JOHNSON. 'A man may
know, that physically, that is, in the real state of things, he is not
the worst man; but that morally he may be so. Law observes that "Every
man knows something worse of himself, than he is sure of in
others[904]." You may not have committed such crimes as some men have
done; but you do not know against what degree of light they have sinned.
Besides, Sir, "the chief of sinners" is a mode of expression for "I am a
great sinner." So St. Paul, speaking of our SAVIOUR'S having died to
save sinners, says, "of whom I am the chief[905];" yet he certainly did
not think himself so bad as Judas Iscariot.' BOSWELL. 'But, Sir, Taylor
means it literally, for he founds a conceit upon it. When praying for
the conversion of sinners, and of himself in particular, he says, "LORD,
thou wilt not leave thy _chief_ work undone." JOHNSON. 'I do not approve
of figurative expressions in addressing the Supreme Being; and I never
use them[906]. Taylor gives a very good advice: "Never lie in your
prayers; never confess more than you really believe; never promise more
than you mean to perform[907]." I recollected this precept in his
_Golden Grove_; but his _example_ for prayer contradicts his _precept_.'

Dr. Johnson and I went in Dr. Adams's coach to dine with Dr. Nowell,
Principal of St. Mary Hall, at his beautiful villa at Iffley, on the
banks of the Isis, about two miles from Oxford. While we were upon the
road, I had the resolution to ask Johnson whether he thought that the
roughness of his manner had been an advantage or not, and if he would
not have done more good if he had been more gentle. I proceeded to
answer myself thus: 'Perhaps it has been of advantage, as it has given
weight to what you said: you could not, perhaps, have talked with such
authority without it.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; I have done more good as I am.
Obscenity and Impiety have always been repressed in my company[908].'
BOSWELL. 'True, Sir; and that is more than can be said of every Bishop.
Greater liberties have been taken in the presence of a Bishop, though a
very good man, from his being milder, and therefore not commanding such
awe. Yet, Sir, many people who might have been benefited by your
conversation, have been frightened away. A worthy friend of ours[909]
has told me, that he has often been afraid to talk to you.' JOHNSON.
'Sir, he need not have been afraid, if he had any thing rational to say.
If he had not, it was better he did not talk[910].

Dr. Nowell is celebrated for having preached a sermon before the House
of Commons, on the 3Oth of January, 1773, full of high Tory sentiments,
for which he was thanked as usual, and printed it at their request; but,
in the midst of that turbulence and faction which disgraced a part of
the present reign, the thanks were afterwards ordered to be
expunged[911]. This strange conduct sufficiently exposes itself; and Dr.
Nowell will ever have the honour which is due to a lofty friend of our
monarchical constitution. Dr. Johnson said to me, 'Sir, the Court will
be very much to blame, if he is not promoted.' I told this to Dr.
Nowell, and asserting my humbler, though not less zealous exertions in
the same cause, I suggested that whatever return we might receive, we
should still have the consolation of being like Butler's steady and
generous Royalist,

     'True as the dial to the sun,
      Although it be not shone upon[912].'

We were well entertained and very happy at Dr. Nowell's, where was a
very agreeable company, and we drank 'Church and King' after dinner,
with true Tory cordiality.

We talked of a certain clergyman[913] of extraordinary character, who
by exerting his talents in writing on temporary topicks, and displaying
uncommon intrepidity, had raised himself to affluence. I maintained that
we ought not to be indignant at his success; for merit of every sort was
entitled to reward. JOHNSON. 'Sir, I will not allow this man to have
merit. No, Sir; what he has is rather the contrary; I will, indeed,
allow him courage, and on this account we so far give him credit. We
have more respect for a man who robs boldly on the highway, than for a
fellow who jumps out of a ditch, and knocks you down behind your back.
Courage is a quality so necessary for maintaining virtue, that it is
always respected, even when it is associated with vice[914].

I censured the coarse invectives which were become fashionable in the
House of Commons[915], and said that if members of parliament must
attack each other personally in the heat of debate, it should be done
more genteely. JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; that would be much worse. Abuse is not
so dangerous when there is no vehicle of wit or delicacy, no subtle
conveyance. The difference between coarse and refined abuse is as the
difference between being bruised by a club, and wounded by a poisoned
arrow.' I have since observed his position elegantly expressed by
Dr. Young:--

     'As the soft plume gives swiftness to the dart,
      Good breeding sends the satire to the heart[916].'

On Saturday, June 12, there drank tea with us at Dr. Adams's, Mr. John
Henderson, student of Pembroke-College, celebrated for his wonderful
acquirements in Alchymy, Judicial Astrology, and other abstruse and
curious learning[917]; and the Reverend Herbert Croft, who, I am afraid,
was somewhat mortified by Dr. Johnson's not being highly pleased with
some _Family Discourses_, which he had printed; they were in too
familiar a style to be approved of by so manly a mind. I have no note of
this evening's conversation, except a single fragment. When I mentioned
Thomas Lord Lyttelton's vision[918], the prediction of the time of his
death, and its exact fulfilment;--JOHNSON. 'It is the most extraordinary
thing that has happened in my day. I heard it with my own ears, from his
uncle, Lord Westcote. I am so glad to have every evidence of the
spiritual world, that I am willing to believe it.' DR. ADAMS. 'You have
evidence enough; good evidence, which needs not such support.' JOHNSON.
'I like to have more[919].'

Mr. Henderson, with whom I had sauntered in the venerable walks of
Merton-College, and found him a very learned and pious man, supped with
us. Dr. Johnson surprised him not a little, by acknowledging with a look
of horrour, that he was much oppressed by the fear of death[920]. The
amiable Dr. Adams suggested that GOD was infinitely good. JOHNSON. 'That
he is infinitely good, as far as the perfection of his nature will
allow, I certainly believe; but it is necessary for good upon the whole,
that individuals should be punished. As to an _individual_, therefore,
he is not infinitely good; and as I cannot be _sure_ that I have
fulfilled the conditions on which salvation is granted, I am afraid I
may be one of those who shall be damned.' (looking dismally.) DR. ADAMS.
'What do you mean by damned?' JOHNSON. (passionately and loudly) 'Sent
to Hell, Sir, and punished everlastingly[921].' DR. ADAMS. 'I don't
believe that doctrine.' JOHNSON. 'Hold, Sir, do you believe that some
will be punished at all?' DR. ADAMS. 'Being excluded from Heaven will be
a punishment; yet there may be no great positive suffering.' JOHNSON.
'Well, Sir; but, if you admit any degree of punishment, there is an end
of your argument for infinite goodness simply considered; for, infinite
goodness would inflict no punishment whatever. There is not infinite
goodness physically considered; morally there is.' BOSWELL. 'But may not
a man attain to such a degree of hope as not to be uneasy from the fear
of death?' JOHNSON. 'A man may have such a degree of hope as to keep him
quiet. You see I am not quiet, from the vehemence with which I talk;
but I do not despair.' MRS. ADAMS. 'You seem, Sir, to forget the merits
of our Redeemer.' JOHNSON. 'Madam, I do not forget the merits of my
Redeemer; but my Redeemer has said that he will set some on his right
hand and some on his left.' He was in gloomy agitation, and said, 'I'll
have no more on't[922].' If what has now been stated should be urged by
the enemies of Christianity, as if its influence on the mind were not
benignant, let it be remembered, that Johnson's temperament was
melancholy, of which such direful apprehensions of futurity are often a
common effect. We shall presently see that when he approached nearer to
his aweful change, his mind became tranquil, and he exhibited as much
fortitude as becomes a thinking man in that situation.

From the subject of death we passed to discourse of life, whether it was
upon the whole more happy or miserable. Johnson was decidedly for the
balance of misery[923]: in confirmation of which I maintained, that no
man would choose to lead over again the life which he had experienced.
Johnson acceded to that opinion in the strongest terms[924]. This is an
inquiry often made; and its being a subject of disquisition is a proof
that much misery presses upon human feelings; for those who are
conscious of a felicity of existence, would never hesitate to accept of
a repetition of it. I have met with very few who would. I have heard Mr.
Burke make use of a very ingenious and plausible argument on this
subject;--'Every man (said he) would lead his life over again; for,
every man is willing to go on and take an addition to his life, which,
as he grows older, he has no reason to think will be better, or even so
good as what has preceded.' I imagine, however, the truth is, that there
is a deceitful hope that the next part of life will be free from the
pains, and anxieties, and sorrows, which we have already felt[925]. We
are for wise purposes 'Condemn'd to Hope's delusive mine;' as Johnson
finely says[926]; and I may also quote the celebrated lines of Dryden,
equally philosophical and poetical:--

     'When I consider life, 'tis all a cheat,
      Yet fool'd with hope, men favour the deceit:
      Trust on, and think to-morrow will repay;
      To-morrow's falser than the former day;
      Lies worse; and while it says we shall be blest
      With some new joys, cuts off what we possest.
      Strange cozenage! none would live past years again;
      Yet all hope pleasure in what yet remain;
      And from the dregs of life think to receive,
      What the first sprightly running could not give[927].'

It was observed to Dr. Johnson, that it seemed strange that he, who has
so often delighted his company by his lively and brilliant conversation,
should say he was miserable. JOHNSON. 'Alas! it is all outside; I may be
cracking my joke[928], and cursing the sun. _Sun, how I hate thy
beams_[929]!' I knew not well what to think of this declaration; whether
to hold it as a genuine picture of his mind[930], or as the effect of
his persuading himself contrary to fact, that the position which he had
assumed as to human unhappiness, was true. We may apply to him a
sentence in Mr. Greville's[931] _Maxims, Characters, and
Reflections_[932]; a book which is entitled to much more praise than it
has received: 'ARISTARCHUS is charming: how full of knowledge, of sense,
of sentiment. You get him with difficulty to your supper; and after
having delighted every body and himself for a few hours, he is obliged
to return home;--he is finishing his treatise, to prove that unhappiness
is the portion of man[933].'

On Sunday, June 13, our philosopher was calm at breakfast. There was
something exceedingly pleasing in our leading a College life, without
restraint, and with superiour elegance, in consequence of our living in
the Master's house, and having the company of ladies. Mrs. Kennicot
related, in his presence, a lively saying of Dr. Johnson to Miss Hannah
More, who had expressed a wonder that the poet who had written _Paradise
Lost_ should write such poor Sonnets:--' Milton, Madam, was a genius
that could cut a Colossus from a rock; but could not carve heads upon

We talked of the casuistical question, Whether it was allowable at any
time to depart from _Truth_? JOHNSON. 'The general rule is, that Truth
should never be violated, because it is of the utmost importance to the
comfort of life, that we should have a full security by mutual faith;
and occasional inconveniences should be willingly suffered that we may
preserve it. There must, however, be some exceptions. If, for instance,
a murderer should ask you which way a man is gone, you may tell him what
is not true, because you are under a previous obligation not to betray a
man to a murderer[935].' BOSWELL. 'Supposing the person who wrote
_Junius_ were asked whether he was the authour, might he deny it?'
JOHNSON. 'I don't know what to say to this. If you were _sure_ that he
wrote _Junius_, would you, if he denied it, think as well of him
afterwards? Yet it may be urged, that what a man has no right to ask,
you may refuse to communicate[936]; and there is no other effectual mode
of preserving a secret and an important secret, the discovery of which
may be very hurtful to you, but a flat denial; for if you are silent, or
hesitate, or evade, it will be held equivalent to a confession. But
stay, Sir; here is another case. Supposing the authour had told me
confidentially that he had written _Junius_, and I were asked if he had,
I should hold myself at liberty to deny it, as being under a previous
promise, express or implied, to conceal it. Now what I ought to do for
the authour, may I not do for myself? But I deny the lawfulness of
telling a lie to a sick man for fear of alarming him. You have no
business with consequences; you are to tell the truth. Besides, you are
not sure what effect your telling him that he is in danger may have. It
may bring his distemper to a crisis, and that may cure him. Of all
lying, I have the greatest abhorrence of this, because I believe it has
been frequently practised on myself.'

I cannot help thinking that there is much weight in the opinion of those
who have held, that Truth, as an eternal and immutable principle, ought,
upon no account whatever, to be violated, from supposed previous or
superiour obligations, of which every man being to judge for himself,
there is great danger that we too often, from partial motives, persuade
ourselves that they exist; and probably whatever extraordinary instances
may sometimes occur, where some evil may be prevented by violating this
noble principle, it would be found that human happiness would, upon the
whole, be more perfect were Truth universally preserved.

In the notes to the _Dunciad_[937], we find the following verses,
addressed to Pope[938]:--

     'While malice, Pope, denies thy page
        Its own celestial fire;
      While criticks, and while bards in rage
        Admiring, won't admire:

      While wayward pens thy worth assail,
        And envious tongues decry;
      These times, though many a friend bewail,
        These times bewail not I.

      But when the world's loud praise is thine,
        And spleen no more shall blame;
      When with thy Homer thou shalt shine
        In one establish'd fame!

      When none shall rail, and every lay
        Devote a wreath to thee:
      That day (for come it will) that day
        Shall I lament to see.'

It is surely not a little remarkable, that they should appear without a
name. Miss Seward[939], knowing Dr. Johnson's almost universal and
minute literary information, signified a desire that I should ask him
who was the authour. He was prompt with his answer: 'Why, Sir, they were
written by one Lewis, who was either under-master or an usher of
Westminster-school, and published a Miscellany, in which _Grongar
Hill_[940] first came out[941].' Johnson praised them highly, and
repeated them with a noble animation. In the twelfth line, instead of
'one establish'd fame,' he repeated 'one unclouded flame,' which he
thought was the reading in former editions: but I believe was a flash of
his own genius. It is much more poetical than the other.

On Monday, June 14, and Tuesday, 15, Dr. Johnson and I dined, on one of
them, I forget which, with Mr. Mickle, translator of the _Lusiad_, at
Wheatley, a very pretty country place a few miles from Oxford; and on
the other with Dr. Wetherell, Master of University-College. From Dr.
Wetherell's he went to visit Mr. Sackville Parker, the bookseller; and
when he returned to us, gave the following account of his visit, saying,
'I have been to see my old friend, Sack. Parker; I find he has married
his maid; he has done right. She had lived with him many years in great
confidence, and they had mingled minds; I do not think he could have
found any wife that would have made him so happy. The woman was very
attentive and civil to me; she pressed me to fix a day for dining with
them, and to say what I liked, and she would be sure to get it for me.
Poor Sack! He is very ill, indeed. We parted as never to meet again. It
has quite broke me down.' This pathetic narrative was strangely
diversified with the grave and earnest defence of a man's having married
his maid. I could not but feel it as in some degree ludicrous.

In the morning of Tuesday, June 15, while we sat at Dr. Adams's, we
talked of a printed letter from the Reverend Herbert Croft[942], to a
young gentleman who had been his pupil, in which he advised him to read
to the end of whatever books he should begin to read. JOHNSON. 'This is
surely a strange advice; you may as well resolve that whatever men you
happen to get acquainted with, you are to keep to them for life. A book
may be good for nothing; or there may be only one thing in it worth
knowing; are we to read it all through[943]? These Voyages, (pointing to
the three large volumes of _Voyages to the South Sea_[944], which were
just come out) _who_ will read them through? A man had better work his
way before the mast, than read them through; they will be eaten by rats
and mice, before they are read through. There can be little
entertainment in such books; one set of Savages is like another.'
BOSWELL. 'I do not think the people of Otaheité can be reckoned
Savages.' JOHNSON. 'Don't cant in defence of Savages[945].' BOSWELL.
'They have the art of navigation.' JOHNSON. 'A dog or a cat can swim.'
BOSWELL. 'They carve very ingeniously.' JOHNSON. 'A cat can scratch, and
a child with a nail can scratch.' I perceived this was none of the
_mollia tempora fandi_[946]; so desisted.

Upon his mentioning that when he came to College he wrote his first
exercise twice over; but never did so afterwards[947]; MISS ADAMS. 'I
suppose, Sir, you could not make them better?' JOHNSON. 'Yes, Madam, to
be sure, I could make them better. Thought is better than no thought.'
MISS ADAMS. 'Do you think, Sir, you could make your _Ramblers_ better?'
JOHNSON. 'Certainly I could.' BOSWELL. 'I'll lay a bet, Sir, you
cannot.' JOHNSON. 'But I will, Sir, if I choose. I shall make the best
of them you shall pick out, better.' BOSWELL. 'But you may add to them.
I will not allow of that.' JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir, there are three ways of
making them better;--putting out,--adding,--or correcting[948].'

During our visit at Oxford, the following conversation passed between
him and me on the subject of my trying my fortune at the English
bar[949]: Having asked whether a very extensive acquaintance in London,
which was very valuable, and of great advantage to a man at large, might
not be prejudicial to a lawyer, by preventing him from giving sufficient
attention to his business;--JOHNSON. 'Sir, you will attend to business,
as business lays hold of you. When not actually employed, you may see
your friends as much as you do now. You may dine at a Club every day,
and sup with one of the members every night; and you may be as much at
publick places as one who has seen them all would wish to be. But you
must take care to attend constantly in Westminster-Hall; both to mind
your business, as it is almost all learnt there, (for nobody reads now;)
and to shew that you want to have business[950]. And you must not be
too often seen at publick places, that competitors may not have it to
say, 'He is always at the Playhouse or at Ranelagh, and never to be
found at his chambers.' And, Sir, there must be a kind of solemnity in
the manner of a professional man. I have nothing particular to say to
you on the subject. All this I should say to any one; I should have said
it to Lord Thurlow twenty years ago.'

The PROFESSION may probably think this representation of what is
required in a Barrister who would hope for success, to be by much too
indulgent; but certain it is, that as

     'The wits of Charles found easier ways to fame[951],'

some of the lawyers of this age who have risen high, have by no means
thought it absolutely necessary to submit to that long and painful
course of study which a Plowden, a Coke, and a Hale considered as
requisite. My respected friend, Mr. Langton, has shewn me in the
hand-writing of his grandfather[952], a curious account of a
conversation which he had with Lord Chief Justice Hale, in which that
great man tells him, 'That for two years after he came to the inn of
court, he studied sixteen hours a day; however (his Lordship added) that
by this intense application he almost brought himself to his grave,
though he were of a very strong constitution, and after reduced himself
to eight hours; but that he would not advise any body to so much; that
he thought six hours a day, with attention and constancy, was
sufficient; that a man must use his body as he would his horse, and his
stomach; not tire him at once, but rise with an appetite.[953]'

On Wednesday, June 19[954], Dr. Johnson and I returned to London; he
was not well to-day, and said very little, employing himself chiefly in
reading Euripides. He expressed some displeasure at me, for not
observing sufficiently the various objects upon the road. 'If I had your
eyes, Sir, (said he) I should count the passengers.' It was wonderful
how accurate his observation of visual objects was, notwithstanding his
imperfect eyesight, owing to a habit of attention[955]. That he was much
satisfied with the respect paid to him at Dr. Adams's is thus attested
by himself: 'I returned last night from Oxford, after a fortnight's
abode with Dr. Adams, who treated me as well as I could expect or wish;
and he that contents a sick man, a man whom it is impossible to please,
has surely done his part well[956].'

After his return to London from this excursion, I saw him frequently,
but have few memorandums: I shall therefore here insert some particulars
which I collected at various times.

The Reverend Mr. Astle, of Ashbourne, in Derbyshire, brother to the
learned and ingenious Thomas Astle[957], Esq., was from his early years
known to Dr. Johnson, who obligingly advised him as to his studies, and
recommended to him the following books, of which a list which he has
been pleased to communicate, lies before me in Johnson's own

_Universal History (ancient.)--Rollin's Ancient History.--Puffendorf's
Introduction to History.--Vertot's History of Knights of Malta.--
Vertot's Revolution of Portugal.--Vertot's Revolutions of Sweden.--
Carte's History of England.--Present State of England.--Geographical
Grammar.--Prideaux's Connection.--Nelson's Feasts and Fasts.--Duty of
Man.--Gentleman's Religion.--Clarendon's History.--Watts's Improvement
of the Mind.--Watts's Logick.--Nature Displayed.--Lowth's English
Grammar.--Blackwall on the Classicks.--Sherlock's Sermons.--Burnet's
Life of Hale.--Dupin's History of the Church.--Shuckford's
Connection.--Law's Serious Call.--Walton's Complete Angler.--Sandys's
Travels.--Sprat's History of the Royal Society.--England's
Gazetteer.--Goldsmith's Roman History.--Some Commentaries on the.

It having been mentioned to Dr. Johnson that a gentleman who had a son
whom he imagined to have an extreme degree of timidity, resolved to send
him to a publick school, that he might acquire confidence;--' Sir, (said
Johnson,) this is a preposterous expedient for removing his infirmity;
such a disposition should be cultivated in the shade. Placing him at a
publick school is forcing an owl upon day[959].'

Speaking of a gentleman whose house was much frequented by low company;
'Rags, Sir, (said he,) will always make their appearance where they have
a right to do it.'

Of the same gentleman's mode of living, he said, 'Sir, the servants,
instead of doing what they are bid, stand round the table in idle
clusters, gaping upon the guests; and seem as unfit to attend a company,
as to steer a man of war[960].'

A dull country magistrate[961] gave Johnson a long tedious account of
his exercising his criminal jurisdiction, the result of which was his
having sentenced four convicts to transportation. Johnson, in an agony
of impatience to get rid of such a companion, exclaimed, 'I heartily
wish, Sir, that I were a fifth.'

Johnson was present when a tragedy was read, in which there occurred
this line:--

     'Who rules o'er freemen should himself be free[962].'

The company having admired it much, 'I cannot agree with you (said
Johnson:) It might as well be said,--

'Who drives fat oxen should himself be fat.'

He was pleased with the kindness of Mr. Cator, who was joined with him
in Mr. Thrale's important trust, and thus describes him[963]:--'There is
much good in his character, and much usefulness in his knowledge.' He
found a cordial solace at that gentleman's seat at Beckenham, in Kent,
which is indeed one of the finest places at which I ever was a guest;
and where I find more and more a hospitable welcome.

Johnson seldom encouraged general censure of any profession[964]; but he
was willing to allow a due share of merit to the various departments
necessary in civilised life. In a splenetick, sarcastical, or jocular
frame, however, he would sometimes utter a pointed saying of that
nature. One instance has been mentioned[965], where he gave a sudden
satirical stroke to the character of an _attorney_. The too
indiscriminate admission to that employment, which requires both
abilities and integrity, has given rise to injurious reflections, which
are totally inapplicable to many very respectable men who exercise it
with reputation and honour.

Johnson having argued for some time with a pertinacious gentleman; his
opponent, who had talked in a very puzzling manner, happened to say, 'I
don't understand you, Sir:' upon which Johnson observed, 'Sir, I have
found you an argument; but I am not obliged to find you an

Talking to me of Horry Walpole, (as Horace late Earl of Orford was
often called[967],) Johnson allowed that he got together a great many
curious little things, and told them in an elegant manner[968]. Mr.
Walpole thought Johnson a more amiable character after reading his
_Letters to Mrs. Thrale_: but never was one of the true admirers of that
great man[969]. We may suppose a prejudice conceived, if he ever heard
Johnson's account to Sir George Staunton[970], that when he made the
speeches in parliament for the _Gentleman's Magazine_, 'he always took
care to put Sir Robert Walpole in the wrong, and to say every thing he
could against the electorate of Hanover[971].' The celebrated _Heroick
Epistle_, in which Johnson is satyrically introduced, has been ascribed
both to Mr. Walpole and Mr. Mason. One day at Mr. Courtenay's, when a
gentleman expressed his opinion that there was more energy in that poem
than could be expected from Mr. Walpole; Mr. Warton, the late Laureat,
observed, 'It may have been written by Walpole, and _buckram'd_ by

He disapproved of Lord Hailes, for having modernised the language of the
ever-memorable John Hales of Eton[973], in an edition which his Lordship
published of that writer's works. 'An authour's language, Sir, (said
he,) is a characteristical part of his composition, and is also
characteristical of the age in which he writes. Besides, Sir, when the
language is changed we are not sure that the sense is the same. No, Sir;
I am sorry Lord Hailes has done this.'

Here it may be observed, that his frequent use of the expression, _No,
Sir_, was not always to intimate contradiction; for he would say so,
when he was about to enforce an affirmative proposition which had not
been denied, as in the instance last mentioned. I used to consider it as
a kind of flag of defiance; as if he had said, 'Any argument you may
offer against this, is not just. No, Sir, it is not.' It was like
Falstaff's 'I deny your Major[974].'

Sir Joshua Reynolds having said that he took the altitude of a man's
taste by his stories and his wit, and of his understanding by the
remarks which he repeated; being always sure that he must be a weak man
who quotes common things with an emphasis as if they were oracles;
Johnson agreed with him; and Sir Joshua having also observed that the
real character of a man was found out by his amusements,--Johnson added,
'Yes, Sir; no man is a hypocrite in his pleasures[975].'

I have mentioned Johnson's general aversion to a pun[976]. He once,
however, endured one of mine. When we were talking of a numerous company
in which he had distinguished himself highly, I said, 'Sir, you were a
COD surrounded by smelts. Is not this enough for you? at a time too when
you were not _fishing_ for a compliment?' He laughed at this with a
complacent approbation. Old Mr. Sheridan observed, upon my mentioning it
to him, 'He liked your compliment so well, he was willing to take it
with _pun sauce_.' For my own part, I think no innocent species of wit
or pleasantry should be suppressed; and that a good pun may be admitted
among the smaller excellencies of lively conversation.

Had Johnson treated at large _De Claris Oratoribus_[977], he might have
given us an admirable work. When the Duke of Bedford attacked the
ministry as vehemently as he could, for having taken upon them to extend
the time for the importation of corn[978], Lord Chatham, in his first
speech in the House of Lords, boldly avowed himself to be an adviser of
that measure. 'My colleagues, (said he,) as I was confined by
indisposition, did me the signal honour of coming to the bed-side of a
sick man, to ask his opinion. But, had they not thus condescended, I
should have _taken up my bed and walked_, in order to have delivered
that opinion at the Council-Board.' Mr. Langton, who was present,
mentioned this to Johnson, who observed, 'Now, Sir, we see that he took
these words as he found them; without considering, that though the
expression in Scripture, _take up thy bed and walk_[979], strictly
suited the instance of the sick man restored to health and strength, who
would of course be supposed to carry his bed with him, it could not be
proper in the case of a man who was lying in a state of feebleness, and
who certainly would not add to the difficulty of moving at all, that of
carrying his bed.'

When I pointed out to him in the newspaper one of Mr. Grattan's animated
and glowing speeches, in favour of the freedom of Ireland, in which this
expression occurred (I know not if accurately taken): 'We will
persevere, till there is not one link of the English chain left to clank
upon the rags of the meanest beggar in Ireland;' 'Nay, Sir, (said
Johnson,) don't you perceive that _one_ link cannot clank?'

Mrs. Thrale has published[980], as Johnson's, a kind of parody or
counterpart of a fine poetical passage in one of Mr. Burke's speeches on
American Taxation. It is vigorously but somewhat coarsely executed; and
I am inclined to suppose, is not quite correctly exhibited. I hope he
did not use the words _'vile agents'_ for the Americans in the House of
Parliament; and if he did so, in an extempore effusion, I wish the lady
had not committed it to writing[981].

Mr. Burke uniformly shewed Johnson the greatest respect; and when Mr.
Townshend, now lord Sydney, at a period when he was conspicuous in
opposition, threw out some reflection in parliament upon the grant of a
pension to a man of such political principles as Johnson; Mr. Burke,
though then of the same party with Mr. Townshend, stood warmly forth in
defence of his friend, to whom, he justly observed, the pension was
granted solely on account of his eminent literary merit. I am well
assured, that Mr. Townshend's attack upon Johnson was the occasion of
his 'hitching in a rhyme[982];' for, that in the original copy of
Goldsmith's character of Mr. Burke, in his _Retaliation_, another
person's name stood in the couplet where Mr. Townshend is now

     'Though fraught with all learning kept[984] straining his throat,
      To persuade _Tommy Townshend_ to lend him a vote.'

It may be worth remarking, among the _minutiae_ of my collection, that
Johnson was once drawn to serve in the militia, the Trained Bands of the
City of London, and that Mr. Rackstrow, of the Museum in Fleet-street,
was his Colonel. It may be believed he did not serve in person; but the
idea, with all its circumstances, is certainly laughable. He upon that
occasion provided himself with a musket, and with a sword and belt,
which I have seen hanging in his closet.

He was very constant to those whom he once employed, if they gave him no
reason to be displeased. When somebody talked of being imposed on in the
purchase of tea and sugar, and such articles: 'That will not be the
case, (said he,) if you go to a _stately shop_, as I always do. In such
a shop it is not worth their while to take a petty advantage.'

An authour of most anxious and restless vanity being mentioned, 'Sir,
(said he,) there is not a young sapling upon Parnassus more severely
blown about by every wind of criticism than that poor fellow.'

The difference, he observed, between a well-bred and an ill-bred man is
this: 'One immediately attracts your liking, the other your aversion.
You love the one till you find reason to hate him; you hate the other
till you find reason to love him.'

The wife of one of his acquaintance had fraudulently made a purse for
herself out of her husband's fortune. Feeling a proper compunction in
her last moments, she confessed how much she had secreted; but before
she could tell where it was placed, she was seized with a convulsive fit
and expired. Her husband said, he was more hurt by her want of
confidence in him, than by the loss of his money. 'I told him, (said
Johnson,) that he should console himself: for _perhaps_ the money might
be _found_, and he was _sure_ that his wife was gone.'

A foppish physician once reminded Johnson of his having been in company
with him on a former occasion; 'I do not remember it, Sir.' The
physician still insisted; adding that he that day wore so fine a coat
that it must have attracted his notice. 'Sir, (said Johnson,) had you
been dipt in Pactolus[985] I should not have noticed you.'

He seemed to take a pleasure in speaking in his own style; for when he
had carelessly missed it, he would repeat the thought translated into
it[986]. Talking of the Comedy of _The Rehearsal_[987], he said, 'It has
not wit enough to keep it sweet.' This was easy; he therefore caught
himself, and pronounced a more round sentence; 'It has not vitality
enough to preserve it from putrefaction.'

He censured a writer of entertaining Travels[988] for assuming a feigned
character, saying, (in his sense of the word[989],) 'He carries out one
lye; we know not how many he brings back.'[990] At another time, talking
of the same person, he observed, 'Sir, your assent to a man whom you
have never known to falsify, is a debt: but after you have known a man
to falsify, your assent to him then is a favour.'

Though he had no taste for painting, he admired much the manner in which
Sir Joshua Reynolds treated of his art, in his _Discourses to the Royal
Academy_[991]. He observed one day of a passage in them, 'I think I
might as well have said this myself: 'and once when Mr. Langton was
sitting by him, he read one of them very eagerly, and expressed himself
thus:--'Very well, Master Reynolds; very well, indeed. But it will not
be understood.'

When I observed to him that Painting was so far inferiour to Poetry,
that the story or even emblem which it communicates must be previously
known, and mentioned as a natural and laughable instance of this, that a
little Miss on seeing a picture of Justice with the scales, had
exclaimed to me, 'See, there's a woman selling sweetmeats;' he said,
'Painting, Sir, can illustrate, but cannot inform.'

No man was more ready to make an apology when he had censured unjustly,
than Johnson[992]. When a proof-sheet of one of his works was brought to
him, he found fault with the mode in which a part of it was arranged,
refused to read it, and in a passion[993] desired that the
compositor[994] might be sent to him. The compositor was Mr. Manning, a
decent sensible man, who had composed about one half of his
_Dictionary_, when in Mr. Strahan's printing-house; and a great part of
his _Lives of the Poets_, when in that of Mr. Nichols; and who (in his
seventy-seventh year), when in Mr. Baldwin's printing-house, composed a
part of the first edition of this work concerning him. By producing the
manuscript, he at once satisfied Dr. Johnson that he was not to blame.
Upon which Johnson candidly and earnestly said to him, 'Mr. Compositor,
I ask your pardon. Mr. Compositor, I ask your pardon, again and again.'

His generous humanity to the miserable was almost beyond example. The
following instance is well attested:--Coming home late one night, he
found a poor woman lying in the street, so much exhausted that she could
not walk; he took her upon his back, and carried her to his house, where
he discovered that she was one of those wretched females who had fallen
into the lowest state of vice, poverty, and disease. Instead of harshly
upbraiding her, he had her taken care of with all tenderness for a long
time, at considerable expence, till she was restored to health, and
endeavoured to put her into a virtuous way of living[995].

He thought Mr. Caleb Whitefoord singularly happy in hitting on the
signature of _Papyrius Cursor_, to his ingenious and diverting
cross-readings of the newspapers; it being a real name of an ancient
Roman, and clearly expressive of the thing done in this lively

He once in his life was known to have uttered what is called a _bull_:
Sir Joshua Reynolds, when they were riding together in Devonshire,
complained that he had a very bad horse, for that even when going down
hill he moved slowly step by step. 'Ay (said Johnson,) and when he
_goes_ up hill, he _stands still_.'

He had a great aversion to gesticulating in company. He called once to
a gentleman who offended him in that point, 'Don't _attitudenise_.' And
when another gentleman thought he was giving additional force to what he
uttered, by expressive movements of his hands, Johnson fairly seized
them, and held them down[997].

An authour of considerable eminence[998] having engrossed a good share
of the conversation in the company of Johnson, and having said nothing
but what was trifling and insignificant; Johnson when he was gone,
observed to us, 'It is wonderful what a difference there sometimes is
between a man's powers of writing and of talking. ---- writes with great
spirit, but is a poor talker; had he held his tongue we might have
supposed him to have been restrained by modesty; but he has spoken a
great deal to-day; and you have heard what stuff it was.'

A gentleman having said that a _congé d'élire_[999] has not, perhaps,
the force of a command, but may be considered only as a strong
recommendation; 'Sir, (replied Johnson, who overheard him,) it is such a
recommendation, as if I should throw you out of a two-pair of stairs
window, and recommend to you to fall soft[1000].'

Mr. Steevens, who passed many a social hour with him during their long
acquaintance, which commenced when they both lived in the Temple, has
preserved a good number of particulars concerning him, most of which are
to be found in the department of Apothegms, &c. in the Collection of
_Johnson's Works_[1001]. But he has been pleased to favour me with the
following, which are original:--

'One evening, previous to the trial of Barretti[1002], a consultation of
his friends was held at the house of Mr. Cox, the Solicitor, in
Southampton-buildings, Chancery-lane. Among others present were, Mr.
Burke and Dr. Johnson, who differed in sentiments concerning the
tendency of some part of the defence the prisoner was to make. When the
meeting was over, Mr. Steevens observed, that the question between him
and his friend had been agitated with rather too much warmth. "It may be
so, Sir, (replied the Doctor,) for Burke and I should have been of one
opinion, if we had had no audience[1003]."

'Dr. Johnson once assumed a character in which perhaps even Mr. Boswell
never saw him. His curiosity having been excited by the praises bestowed
on the celebrated Torré's fireworks at Marybone-Gardens, he desired Mr.
Steevens to accompany him thither. The evening had proved showery; and
soon after the few people present were assembled, publick notice was
given, that the conductors to the wheels, suns, stars, &c., were so
thoroughly water-soaked, that it was impossible any part of the
exhibition should be made. "This is a mere excuse, (says the Doctor,) to
save their crackers for a more profitable company. Let us but hold up
our sticks, and threaten to break those coloured lamps that surround the
Orchestra, and we shall soon have our wishes gratified. The core of the
fireworks cannot be injured; let the different pieces be touched in
their respective centers, and they will do their offices as well as
ever." Some young men who overheard him, immediately began the violence
he had recommended, and an attempt was speedily made to fire some of the
wheels which appeared to have received the smallest damage; but to
little purpose were they lighted, for most of them completely failed.
The authour of _The Rambler_, however, may be considered, on this
occasion, as the ringleader of a successful riot, though not as a
skilful pyrotechnist.'

'It has been supposed that Dr. Johnson, so far as fashion was concerned,
was careless of his appearance in publick. But this is not altogether
true, as the following slight instance may show:--Goldsmith's last
Comedy was to be represented during some court-mourning[1004]: and Mr.
Steevens appointed to call on Dr. Johnson, and carry him to the tavern
where he was to dine with others of the Poet's friends. The Doctor was
ready dressed, but in coloured cloaths; yet being told that he would
find every one else in black, received the intelligence with a profusion
of thanks, hastened to change his attire, all the while repeating his
gratitude for the information that had saved him from an appearance so
improper in the front row of a front box. "I would not (added he,) for
ten pounds, have seemed so retrograde to any general observance[1005]."

'He would sometimes found his dislikes on very slender circumstances.
Happening one day to mention Mr. Flexman, a Dissenting Minister, with
some compliment to his exact memory in chronological matters; the Doctor
replied, "Let me hear no more of him, Sir. That is the fellow who made
the Index to my _Ramblers_, and set down the name of Milton thus:
Milton, _Mr_. John[1006]."'

Mr. Steevens adds this testimony:--

'It is unfortunate, however, for Johnson, that his particularities and
frailties can be more distinctly traced than his good and amiable
exertions. Could the many bounties he studiously concealed, the many
acts of humanity he performed in private, be displayed with equal
circumstantiality, his defects would be so far lost in the blaze of his
virtues, that the latter only would be regarded.'

Though from my very high admiration of Johnson, I have wondered[1007]
that he was not courted by all the great and all the eminent persons of
his time, it ought fairly to be considered, that no man of humble birth,
who lived entirely by literature, in short no authour by profession,
ever rose in this country into that personal notice which he did. In the
course of this work a numerous variety of names has been mentioned, to
which many might be added. I cannot omit Lord and Lady Lucan, at whose
house he often enjoyed all that an elegant table and the best company
can contribute to happiness; he found hospitality united with
extraordinary accomplishments, and embellished with charms of which no
man could be insensible[1008].

On Tuesday, June 22, I dined with him at THE LITERARY CLUB, the last
time of his being in that respectable society. The other members present
were the Bishop of St. Asaph, Lord Eliot, Lord Palmerston, Dr. Fordyce,
and Mr. Malone. He looked ill; but had such a manly fortitude, that he
did not trouble the company with melancholy complaints. They all shewed
evident marks of kind concern about him, with which he was much pleased,
and he exerted himself to be as entertaining as his indisposition
allowed him.

The anxiety of his friends to preserve so estimable a life, as long as
human means might be supposed to have influence, made them plan for him
a retreat from the severity of a British winter, to the mild climate of
Italy[1009]. This scheme was at last brought to a serious resolution at
General Paoli's, where I had often talked of it. One essential matter,
however, I understood was necessary to be previously settled, which was
obtaining such an addition to his income, as would be sufficient to
enable him to defray the expence in a manner becoming the first literary
character of a great nation, and, independent of all his other merits,
whom I above all others thought I should apply to negociate this
business, was the Lord Chancellor[1010], because I knew that he highly
valued Johnson, and that Johnson highly valued his Lordship; so that it
was no degradation of my illustrious friend to solicit for him the
favour of such a man. I have mentioned[1011] what Johnson said of him to
me when he was at the bar; and after his Lordship was advanced to the
seals[1012], he said of him, 'I would prepare myself for no man in
England but Lord Thurlow. When I am to meet with him I should wish to
know a day before[1013]'. How he would have prepared himself I cannot
conjecture. Would he have selected certain topicks, and considered them
in every view so as to be in readiness to argue them at all points? and
what may we suppose those topicks to have been? I once started the
curious enquiry to the great man who was the subject of this compliment:
he smiled, but did not pursue it.

I first consulted with Sir Joshua Reynolds, who perfectly coincided in
opinion with me; and I therefore, though personally very little known to
his Lordship, wrote to him[1014], stating the case, and requesting his
good offices for Dr. Johnson. I mentioned that I was obliged to set out
for Scotland early in the following week, so that if his Lordship should
have any commands for me as to this pious negociation, he would be
pleased to send them before that time; otherwise Sir Joshua Reynolds
would give all attention to it.

This application was made not only without any suggestion on the part of
Johnson himself, but was utterly unknown to him, nor had he the smallest
suspicion of it. Any insinuations, therefore, which since his death have
been thrown out, as if he had stooped to ask what was superfluous, are
without any foundation. But, had he asked it, it would not have been
superfluous; for though the money he had saved proved to be more than
his friends imagined, or than I believe he himself, in his carelessness
concerning worldly matters, knew it to be, had he travelled upon the
Continent, an augmentation of his income would by no means have been

On Wednesday, June 23, I visited him in the morning, after having been
present at the shocking sight of fifteen men executed before
Newgate[1015]. I said to him, I was sure that human life was not
machinery, that is to say, a chain of fatality planned and directed by
the Supreme Being, as it had in it so much wickedness and misery, so
many instances of both, as that by which my mind was now clouded. Were
it machinery it would be better than it is in these respects, though
less noble, as not being a system of moral government. He agreed with me
now, as he always did[1016], upon the great question of the liberty of
the human will, which has been in all ages perplexed with so much
sophistry. 'But, Sir, as to the doctrine of Necessity, no man believes
it. If a man should give me arguments that I do not see, though I could
not answer them, should I believe that I do not see?' It will be
observed, that Johnson at all times made the just distinction between
doctrines _contrary_ to reason, and doctrines _above_ reason.

Talking of the religious discipline proper for unhappy convicts, he
said, 'Sir, one of our regular clergy will probably not impress their
minds sufficiently: they should be attended by a Methodist
preacher[1017]; or a Popish priest.' Let me however observe, in justice
to the Reverend Mr. Vilette, who has been Ordinary of Newgate for no
less than eighteen years, in the course of which he has attended many
hundreds of wretched criminals, that his earnest and humane exhortations
have been very effectual. His extraordinary diligence is highly
praiseworthy, and merits a distinguished reward[1018].

On Thursday, June 24, I dined with him at Mr. Dilly's, where were the
Rev. Mr. (now Dr.) Knox, master of Tunbridge-school, Mr. Smith, Vicar of
Southill, Dr. Beattie, Mr. Pinkerton, authour of various literary
performances, and the Rev. Dr. Mayo. At my desire old Mr. Sheridan was
invited, as I was earnest to have Johnson and him brought together again
by chance, that a reconciliation might be effected. Mr. Sheridan
happened to come early, and having learned that Dr. Johnson was to be
there, went away[1019]; so I found, with sincere regret, that my
friendly intentions were hopeless. I recollect nothing that passed this
day, except Johnson's quickness, who, when Dr. Beattie observed, as
something remarkable which had happened to him, that he had chanced to
see both No. 1, and No. 1000, of the hackney-coaches, the first and the
last; 'Why, Sir, (said Johnson,) there is an equal chance for one's
seeing those two numbers as any other two.' He was clearly right; yet
the seeing of the two extremes, each of which is in some degree more
conspicuous than the rest, could not but strike one in a stronger manner
than the sight of any other two numbers. Though I have neglected to
preserve his conversation, it was perhaps at this interview that Dr.
Knox formed the notion of it which he has exhibited in his _Winter

On Friday, June 25, I dined with him at General Paoli's, where, he says
in one of his letters to Mrs. Thrale, 'I love to dine[1021].' There was
a variety of dishes much to his taste, of all which he seemed to me to
eat so much, that I was afraid he might be hurt by it[1022]; and I
whispered to the General my fear, and begged he might not press him.
'Alas! (said the General,) see how very ill he looks; he can live but a
very short time. Would you refuse any slight gratifications to a man
under sentence of death? There is a humane custom in Italy, by which
persons in that melancholy situation are indulged with having whatever
they like best to eat and drink, even with expensive delicacies.'

I shewed him some verses on Lichfield by Miss Seward, which I had that
day received from her, and had the pleasure to hear him approve of them.
He confirmed to me the truth of a high compliment which I had been told
he had paid to that lady, when she mentioned to him _The Colombiade_, an
epick poem, by Madame du Boccage[1023]:--'Madam, there is not any thing
equal to your description of the sea round the North Pole, in your Ode
on the death of Captain Cook[1024].'

On Sunday, June 27, I found him rather better. I mentioned to him a
young man who was going to Jamaica with his wife and children, in
expectation of being provided for by two of her brothers settled in that
island, one a clergyman, and the other a physician. JOHNSON. 'It is a
wild scheme, Sir, unless he has a positive and deliberate invitation.
There was a poor girl, who used to come about me, who had a cousin in
Barbadoes, that, in a letter to her, expressed a wish she should come
out to that Island, and expatiated on the comforts and happiness of her
situation. The poor girl went out: her cousin was much surprised, and
asked her how she could think of coming. "Because, (said she,) you
invited me." "Not I," answered the cousin. The letter was then produced.
"I see it is true, (said she,) that I did invite you: but I did not
think you would come." They lodged her in an out-house, where she passed
her time miserably; and as soon as she had an opportunity she returned
to England. Always tell this, when you hear of people going abroad to
relations, upon a notion of being well received. In the case which you
mention, it is probable the clergyman spends all he gets, and the
physician does not know how much he is to get.'

We this day dined at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, with General Paoli, Lord
Eliot, (formerly Mr. Eliot, of Port Eliot,) Dr. Beattie, and some other
company. Talking of Lord Chesterfield;--JOHNSON. 'His manner was
exquisitely elegant[1025], and he had more knowledge than I expected.'
BOSWELL. 'Did you find, Sir, his conversation to be of a superiour
style?' JOHNSON. 'Sir, in the conversation which I had with him I had
the best right to superiority, for it was upon philology and
literature.' Lord Eliot, who had travelled at the same time with Mr.
Stanhope[1026], Lord Chesterfield's natural son, justly observed, that
it was strange that a man who shewed he had so much affection for his
son as Lord Chesterfield did, by writing so many long and anxious
letters to him, almost all of them when he was Secretary of State[1027],
which certainly was a proof of great goodness of disposition, should
endeavour to make his son a rascal. His Lordship told us, that Foote had
intended to bring on the stage a father who had thus tutored his son,
and to shew the son an honest man to every one else, but practising his
father's maxims upon him, and cheating him[1028]. JOHNSON. 'I am much
pleased with this design; but I think there was no occasion to make the
son honest at all. No; he should be a consummate rogue: the contrast
between honesty and knavery would be the stronger. It should be
contrived so that the father should be the only sufferer by the son's
villainy, and thus there would be poetical justice.'

He put Lord Eliot in mind of Dr. Walter Harte[1029]. 'I know (said he,)
Harte was your Lordship's tutor, and he was also tutor to the
Peterborough family. Pray, my Lord, do you recollect any particulars
that he told you of Lord Peterborough? He is a favourite of mine, and is
not enough known; his character has been only ventilated in party
pamphlets[1030].' Lord Eliot said, if Dr. Johnson would be so good as to
ask him any questions, he would tell what he could recollect.
Accordingly some things were mentioned. 'But, (said his Lordship,) the
best account of Lord Peterborough that I have happened to meet with, is
in _Captain Carleton's Memoirs_. Carleton was descended of an ancestor
who had distinguished himself at the siege of Derry[1031]. He was an
officer; and, what was rare at that time, had some knowledge of
engineering[1032].' Johnson said, he had never heard of the book. Lord
Eliot had it at Port Eliot; but, after a good deal of enquiry, procured
a copy in London, and sent it to Johnson, who told Sir Joshua Reynolds
that he was going to bed when it came, but was so much pleased with it,
that he sat up till he had read it through[1033], and found in it such
an air of truth, that he could not doubt of its authenticity[1034];
adding, with a smile, (in allusion to Lord Eliot's having recently been
raised to the peerage,) 'I did not think a _young Lord_ could have
mentioned to me a book in the English history that was not known to

An addition to our company came after we went up to the drawing-room;
Dr. Johnson seemed to rise in spirits as his audience increased. He
said, 'He wished Lord Orford's pictures[1036], and Sir Ashton Lever's
Museum[1037], might be purchased by the publick, because both the money,
and the pictures, and the curiosities, would remain in the country;
whereas, if they were sold into another kingdom, the nation would indeed
get some money, but would lose the pictures and curiosities, which it
would be desirable we should have, for improvement in taste and natural
history. The only question was, as the nation was much in want of money,
whether it would not be better to take a large price from a
foreign State?'

He entered upon a curious discussion of the difference between intuition
and sagacity; one being immediate in its effect, the other requiring a
circuitous process; one he observed was the _eye_ of the mind, the other
the _nose_ of the mind[1038].

A young gentleman[1039] present took up the argument against him, and
maintained that no man ever thinks of the _nose of the mind_, not
adverting that though that figurative sense seems strange to us, as very
unusual, it is truly not more forced than Hamlet's 'In my _mind's eye_,
Horatio[1040].' He persisted much too long, and appeared to Johnson as
putting himself forward as his antagonist with too much presumption;
upon which he called to him in a loud tone, 'What is it you are
contending for, if you _be_ contending?' And afterwards imagining that
the gentleman retorted upon him with a kind of smart drollery, he said,
'Mr. ----, it does not become you to talk so to me. Besides, ridicule is
not your talent; you have _there_ neither intuition nor sagacity.' The
gentleman protested that he had intended no improper freedom, but had
the greatest respect for Dr. Johnson. After a short pause, during which
we were somewhat uneasy,--JOHNSON. 'Give me your hand, Sir. You were
too tedious, and I was too short.' MR. ----. 'Sir, I am honoured by your
attention in any way.' JOHNSON. 'Come, Sir, let's have no more of it. We
offended one another by our contention; let us not offend the company by
our compliments.'

He now said, 'He wished much to go to Italy, and that he dreaded passing
the winter in England.' I said nothing; but enjoyed a secret
satisfaction in thinking that I had taken the most effectual measures to
make such a scheme practicable.

On Monday, June 28, I had the honour to receive from the Lord Chancellor
the following letter:--


I should have answered your letter immediately, if, (being much engaged
when I received it) I had not put it in my pocket, and forgot to open it
till this morning.

I am much obliged to you for the suggestion; and I will adopt and press
it as far as I can. The best argument, I am sure, and I hope it is not
likely to fail, is Dr. Johnson's merit. But it will be necessary, if I
should be so unfortunate as to miss seeing you, to converse with Sir
Joshua on the sum it will be proper to ask,--it short, upon the means of
setting him out. It would be a reflection on us all, if such a man
should perish for want of the means to take care of his health.

Yours, &c. THURLOW.'

This letter gave me a very high satisfaction; I next day went and shewed
it to Sir Joshua Reynolds, who was exceedingly pleased with it. He
thought that I should now communicate the negociation to Dr. Johnson,
who might afterwards complain if the attention with which he had been
honoured, should be too long concealed from him. I intended to set out
for Scotland next morning; but Sir Joshua cordially insisted that I
should stay another day, that Johnson and I might dine with him, that we
three might talk of his Italian Tour, and, as Sir Joshua expressed
himself, 'have it all out.' I hastened to Johnson, and was told by him
that he was rather better to-day. BOSWELL. 'I am very anxious about you,
Sir, and particularly that you should go to Italy for the winter, which
I believe is your own wish.' JOHNSON. 'It is, Sir.' BOSWELL. 'You have
no objection, I presume, but the money it would require.' JOHNSON. 'Why,
no, Sir.' Upon which I gave him a particular account of what had been
done, and read to him the Lord Chancellor's letter. He listened with
much attention; then warmly said, 'This is taking prodigious pains about
a man.' 'O! Sir, (said I, with most sincere affection,) your friends
would do every thing for you.' He paused, grew more and more agitated,
till tears started into his eyes, and he exclaimed with fervent emotion,
'GOD bless you all.' I was so affected that I also shed tears. After a
short silence, he renewed and extended his grateful benediction, 'GOD
bless you all, for JESUS CHRIST'S sake.' We both remained for some time
unable to speak. He rose suddenly and quitted the room, quite melted in
tenderness. He staid but a short time, till he had recovered his
firmness; soon after he returned I left him, having first engaged him to
dine at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, next day. I never was again under that
roof which I had so long reverenced.

On Wednesday, June 30, the friendly confidential dinner with Sir Joshua
Reynolds took place, no other company being present. Had I known that
this was the last time that I should enjoy in this world, the
conversation of a friend whom I so much respected, and from whom I
derived so much instruction and entertainment, I should have been deeply
affected. When I now look back to it, I am vexed that a single word
should have been forgotten.

Both Sir Joshua and I were so sanguine in our expectations, that we
expatiated with confidence on the liberal provision which we were sure
would be made for him, conjecturing whether munificence would be
displayed in one large donation, or in an ample increase of his pension.
He himself catched so much of our enthusiasm, as to allow himself to
suppose it not impossible that our hopes might in one way or other be
realised. He said that he would rather have his pension doubled than a
grant of a thousand pounds; 'For, (said he,) though probably I may not
live to receive as much as a thousand pounds, a man would have the
consciousness that he should pass the remainder of his life in
splendour, how long soever it might be.' Considering what a moderate
proportion an income of six hundred pounds a year bears to innumerable
fortunes in this country, it is worthy of remark, that a man so truly
great should think it splendour[1041].

As an instance of extraordinary liberality of friendship, he told us,
that Dr. Brocklesby had upon this occasion offered him a hundred a year
for his life[1042]. A grateful tear started into his eye, as he spoke
this in a faultering tone.

Sir Joshua and I endeavoured to flatter his imagination with agreeable
prospects of happiness in Italy. 'Nay, (said he,) I must not expect much
of that; when a man goes to Italy merely to feel how he breathes the
air, he can enjoy very little.'

Our conversation turned upon living in the country, which Johnson,
whose melancholy mind required the dissipation of quick successive
variety, had habituated himself to consider as a kind of mental
imprisonment[1043]. 'Yet, Sir, (said I,) there are many people who are
content to live in the country.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, it is in the
intellectual world as in the physical world; we are told by natural
philosophers that a body is at rest in the place that is fit for it;
they who are content to live in the country, are _fit_ for the country.'

Talking of various enjoyments, I argued that a refinement of taste was a
disadvantage, as they who have attained to it must be seldomer pleased
than those who have no nice discrimination, and are therefore satisfied
with every thing that comes in their way. JOHNSON. 'Nay, Sir; that is a
paltry notion. Endeavour to be as perfect as you can in every respect.'

I accompanied him in Sir Joshua Reynolds's coach, to the entry of
Bolt-court. He asked me whether I would not go with him to his house; I
declined it, from an apprehension that my spirits would sink. We bade
adieu to each other affectionately in the carriage. When he had got down
upon the foot-pavement, he called out, 'Fare you well;' and without
looking back, sprung away with a kind of pathetick briskness, if I may
use that expression, which seemed to indicate a struggle to conceal
uneasiness, and impressed me with a foreboding of our long, long

I remained one day more in town, to have the chance of talking over my
negociation with the Lord Chancellor; but the multiplicity of his
Lordship's important engagements did not allow of it; so I left the
management of the business in the hands of Sir Joshua Reynolds.

Soon after this time Dr. Johnson had the mortification of being informed
by Mrs. Thrale, that, 'what she supposed he never believed[1044],' was
true; namely, that she was actually going to marry Signor Piozzi, an
Italian musick-master[1045]. He endeavoured to prevent it; but in vain.
If she would publish the whole of the correspondence that passed between
Dr. Johnson and her on the subject, we should have a full view of his
real sentiments. As it is, our judgement must be biassed by that
characteristick specimen which Sir John Hawkins has given us: 'Poor
Thrale! I thought that either her virtue or her vice would have
restrained her from such a marriage. She is now become a subject for her
enemies to exult over; and for her friends, if she has any left, to
forget, or pity[1046].'

It must be admitted that Johnson derived a considerable portion of
happiness from the comforts and elegancies which he enjoyed in Mr.
Thrale's family[1047]; but Mrs. Thrale assures us he was indebted for
these to her husband alone, who certainly respected him sincerely. Her
words are,--

'_Veneration for his virtue, reverence for his talents_, delight _in his
conversation, and_ habitual endurance of a yoke my husband first put
upon me, _and of which he contentedly bore his share for sixteen or
seventeen years, made me go on so long with_ Mr. Johnson; _but the
perpetual confinement I will own to have been_ terrifying _in the first
years of our friendship, and_ irksome _in the last; nor could I pretend
to support _it without help, when my coadjutor was no more_[1048].'

Alas! how different is this from the declarations which I have heard
Mrs. Thrale make in his life-time, without a single murmur against any
peculiarities, or against any one circumstance which attended their

As a sincere friend of the great man whose _Life_ I am writing, I think
it necessary to guard my readers against the mistaken notion of Dr.
Johnson's character, which this lady's _Anecdotes_ of him suggest; for
from the very nature and form of her book, 'it lends deception lighter
wings to fly'.[1050]

'Let it be remembered, (says an eminent critick[1051],) that she has
comprised in a small volume all that she could recollect of Dr. Johnson
in _twenty years_, during which period, doubtless, some severe things
were said by him; and they who read the book in _two hours_, naturally
enough suppose that his whole conversation was of this complexion. But
the fact is, I have been often in his company, and never _once_ heard
him say a severe thing to any one; and many others can attest the
same[1052]. When he did say a severe thing, it was generally extorted by
ignorance pretending to knowledge, or by extreme vanity or affectation.

'Two instances of inaccuracy, (adds he,) are peculiarly worthy of

'It is said, _"That natural[1053] roughness of his manner so often
mentioned, would, notwithstanding the regularity of his notions, burst
through them all from time to time; and he once bade a very celebrated
lady, who praised him with too much zeal perhaps, or perhaps too strong
an emphasis, (which always offended him,) consider what her flattery was
worth, before she choaked him with it."_

'Now let the genuine anecdote be contrasted with this. The person thus
represented as being harshly treated, though a very celebrated
lady[1054], was _then_ just come to London from an obscure situation in
the country. At Sir Joshua Reynolds's one evening, she met Dr. Johnson.
She very soon began to pay her court to him in the most fulsome strain.
"Spare me, I beseech you, dear Madam," was his reply. She still _laid it
on_. "Pray, Madam, let us have no more of this;" he rejoined. Not paying
any attention to these warnings, she continued still her eulogy. At
length, provoked by this indelicate and vain obtrusion of compliment, he
exclaimed, "Dearest lady, consider with yourself what your flattery is
worth, before you bestow it so freely[1055]."

'How different does this story appear, when accompanied with all these
circumstances which really belong to it, but which Mrs. Thrale either
did not know, or has suppressed.

'She says, in another place[1056], _"One gentleman, however, who dined
at a nobleman's house in his company, and that of_ Mr. Thrale, _to whom
I was obliged for the anecdote, was willing to enter the lists in
defence of_ King William's _character; and having opposed and
contradicted_ Johnson _two or three times, petulantly enough, the master
of the house began to feel uneasy, and expect disagreeable consequences;
to avoid which, he said, loud enough for the Doctor to hear,--'Our
friend here has no meaning now in all this, except just to relate at
club to-morrow how he teized_ Johnson _at dinner to-day; this is all to
do himself_ honour.' _No, upon my word, (replied the other,') I see no_
honour _in it, whatever you may do. Well, Sir, (returned_ Mr. Johnson,
_sternly,) if you do not_ see _the honour, I am sure I_ feel _the

'This is all sophisticated. Mr. Thrale was _not_ in the company, though
he might have related the story to Mrs. Thrale. A friend, from whom I
had the story, was present; and it was _not_ at the house of a nobleman.
On the observation being made by the master of the house on a
gentleman's contradicting Johnson, that he had talked for the honour,
&c., the gentleman muttered in a low voice, "I see no honour in it;" and
Dr. Johnson said nothing: so all the rest, (though _bien trouvée_) is
mere garnish.'

I have had occasion several times, in the course of this work, to point
out the incorrectness of Mrs. Thrale, as to particulars which consisted
with my own knowledge[1057]. But indeed she has, in flippant terms
enough, expressed her disapprobation of that anxious desire of
authenticity which prompts a person who is to record conversations, to
write them down _at the moment_[1058]. Unquestionably, if they are to be
recorded at all, the sooner it is done the better. This lady herself

_'To recollect, however, and to repeat the sayings of_ Dr. Johnson, _is
almost all that can be done by the writers of his Life; as his life, at
least since my acquaintance with him, consisted in little else than
talking, when he was not [absolutely] employed in some serious piece
of work.'_

She boasts of her having kept a common-place book[1060]; and we find she
noted, at one time or other, in a very lively manner, specimens of the
conversation of Dr. Johnson, and of those who talked with him; but had
she done it recently, they probably would have been less erroneous; and
we should have been relieved from those disagreeable doubts of their
authenticity, with which we must now peruse them.

She says of him[1061],--

_'He was the most charitable of mortals, without being what we call an_
active friend. _Admirable at giving counsel; no man saw his way so
clearly; but he_ would not stir a finger _for the assistance of those to
whom he was willing enough to give advice.'_ And again on the same page,
_'If you wanted a slight favour, you must apply to people of other
dispositions; for_ not a step would Johnson move _to obtain a man a vote
in a society, to repay a compliment which might be useful or pleasing,
to write a letter of request, &c., or to obtain a hundred pounds a year
more for a friend who, perhaps, had already two or three. No force could
urge him to diligence, no importunity could conquer his resolution to
stand still.'_

It is amazing that one who had such opportunities of knowing Dr.
Johnson, should appear so little acquainted with his real character. I
am sorry this lady does not advert, that she herself contradicts the
assertion of his being obstinately defective in the _petites morales_,
in the little endearing charities of social life, in conferring smaller
favours; for she says[1062],--

'Dr. Johnson _was liberal enough in granting literary assistance to
others, I think; and innumerable are the Prefaces, Sermons, Lectures,
and Dedications which he used to make for people who begged of him._'

I am certain that a _more active friend_ has rarely been found in any
age[1063]. This work, which I fondly hope will rescue his memory from
obloquy, contains a thousand instances of his benevolent exertions in
almost every way that can be conceived; and particularly in employing
his pen with a generous readiness for those to whom its aid could be
useful. Indeed his obliging activity in doing little offices of
kindness, both by letters and personal application, was one of the most
remarkable features in his character; and for the truth of this I can
appeal to a number of his respectable friends: Sir Joshua Reynolds, Mr.
Langton, Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Burke, Mr. Windham, Mr. Malone, the Bishop of
Dromore, Sir William Scott, Sir Robert Chambers. And can Mrs. Thrale
forget the advertisements which he wrote for her husband at the time of
his election contest[1064]; the epitaphs on him and her mother[1065];
the playful and even trifling verses, for the amusement of her and her
daughters; his corresponding with her children[1066], and entering into
their minute concerns[1067], which shews him in the most amiable light?
She relates[1068],--

That Mr. Ch-lm-ley unexpectedly rode up to Mr. Thrale's carriage, in
which Mr. Thrale and she, and Dr. Johnson were travelling; that he paid
them all his proper compliments, but observing that Dr. Johnson, who was
reading, did not see him, _'tapt him gently on the shoulder. "'Tis_ Mr.
Ch-lm-ley;" _says my husband. "Well, Sir--and what if it is_ Mr.
Ch-lm-ley;" _says the other, sternly, just lifting his eyes a moment
from his book, and returning to it again, with renewed avidity.'_

This surely conveys a notion of Johnson, as if he had been grossly rude
to Mr. Cholmondeley[1069], a gentleman whom he always loved and
esteemed. If, therefore, there was an absolute necessity for mentioning
the story at all, it might have been thought that her tenderness for Dr.
Johnson's character would have disposed her to state any thing that
could soften it. Why then is there a total silence as to what Mr.
Cholmondeley told her?--that Johnson, who had known him from his
earliest years, having been made sensible of what had doubtless a
strange appearance, took occasion, when he afterwards met him, to make a
very courteous and kind apology. There is another little circumstance
which I cannot but remark. Her book was published in 1785, she had then
in her possession a letter from Dr. Johnson, dated in 1777[1070], which
begins thus:--'Cholmondeley's story shocks me, if it be true, which I
can hardly think, for I am utterly unconscious of it: I am very sorry,
and very much ashamed[1071].' Why then publish the anecdote? Or if she
did, why not add the circumstances, with which she was well acquainted!

In his social intercourse she thus describes him[1072]:--

'_Ever musing till he was called out to converse, and conversing till
the fatigue of his friends, or the promptitude of his own temper to take
offence, consigned him back again to silent meditation_.'

Yet, in the same book[1073], she tells us,--

'_He was, however, seldom inclined to be silent, when any moral or
literary question was started; and it was on such occasions that, like
the Sage in _"Rasselas[1074]," _he spoke, and attention watched his
lips; he reasoned, and conviction closed his periods_.'

His conversation, indeed, was so far from ever _fatiguing_ his friends,
that they regretted when it was interrupted, or ceased, and could
exclaim in Milton's language,--

'With thee conversing, I forget all time[1075].'

I certainly, then, do not claim too much in behalf of my illustrious
friend in saying, that however smart and entertaining Mrs. Thrale's
_Anecdotes_ are, they must not be held as good evidence against him; for
wherever an instance of harshness and severity is told, I beg leave to
doubt its perfect authenticity; for though there may have been _some_
foundation for it, yet, like that of his reproof to the 'very celebrated
lady,' it may be so exhibited in the narration as to be very unlike the
real fact.

The evident tendency of the following anecdote[1076] is to represent Dr.
Johnson as extremely deficient in affection, tenderness, or even common

_'When I one day lamented the loss of a first cousin killed in_
America,--"_Prithee, my dear, (said he,) have done with canting; how
would the world be the worse for it, I may ask, if all your relations
were at once spitted like larks, and roasted for_ Presto's
_supper?"_--Presto[1077] _was the dog that lay under the table while
we talked._'

I suspect this too of exaggeration and distortion. I allow that he made
her an angry speech; but let the circumstances fairly appear, as told by
Mr. Baretti, who was present:--

'Mrs. Thrale, while supping very heartily upon larks, laid down her
knife and fork, and abruptly exclaimed, "O, my dear Mr. Johnson, do you
know what has happened? The last letters from abroad have brought us an
account that our poor cousin's head was taken off by a cannon-ball."
Johnson, who was shocked both at the fact, and her light unfeeling
manner of mentioning it, replied, "Madam, it would give _you_ very
little concern if all your relations were spitted like those larks, and
drest for Presto's supper[1078]."'

It is with concern that I find myself obliged to animadvert on the
inaccuracies of Mrs. Piozzi's _Anecdotes_, and perhaps I may be thought
to have dwelt too long upon her little collection. But as from Johnson's
long residence under Mr. Thrale's roof, and his intimacy with her, the
account which she has given of him may have made an unfavourable and
unjust impression, my duty, as a faithful biographer, has obliged me
reluctantly to perform this unpleasing task.

Having left the _pious negotiation_, as I called it, in the best hands,
I shall here insert what relates to it. Johnson wrote to Sir Joshua
Reynolds on July 6, as follows:--

'I am going, I hope, in a few days, to try the air of Derbyshire, but
hope to see you before I go. Let me, however, mention to you what I have
much at heart. If the Chancellor should continue his attention to Mr.
Boswell's request, and confer with you on the means of relieving my
languid state, I am very desirous to avoid the appearance of asking
money upon false pretences. I desire you to represent to his Lordship,
what, as soon as it is suggested, he will perceive to be
reasonable,--That, if I grow much worse, I shall be afraid to leave my
physicians, to suffer the inconveniences of travel, and pine in the
solitude of a foreign country; That, if I grow much better, of which
indeed there is now little appearance, I shall not wish to leave my
friends and my domestick comforts; for I do not travel for pleasure or
curiosity; yet if I should recover, curiosity would revive. In my
present state, I am desirous to make a struggle for a little longer
life, and hope to obtain some help from a softer climate. Do for me
what you can.'

He wrote to me July 26:--

'I wish your affairs could have permitted a longer and continued
exertion of your zeal and kindness. They that have your kindness may
want your ardour. In the mean time I am very feeble and very dejected.'

By a letter from Sir Joshua Reynolds I was informed, that the Lord
Chancellor had called on him, and acquainted him that the application
had not been successful; but that his Lordship, after speaking highly in
praise of Johnson, as a man who was an honour to his country, desired
Sir Joshua to let him know, that on granting a mortgage of his pension,
he should draw on his Lordship to the amount of five or six hundred
pounds; and that his Lordship explained the meaning of the mortgage to
be, that he wished the business to be conducted in such a manner, that
Dr. Johnson should appear to be under the least possible obligation. Sir
Joshua mentioned, that he had by the same post communicated all this to
Dr. Johnson.

How Johnson was affected upon the occasion will appear from what he
wrote to Sir Joshua Reynolds:--

'Ashbourne, Sept. 9. Many words I hope are not necessary between you and
me, to convince you what gratitude is excited in my heart by the
Chancellor's liberality, and your kind offices....[1079] I have enclosed
a letter to the Chancellor, which, when you have read it, you will be
pleased to seal with a head, or any other general seal, and convey it to
him: had I sent it directly to him, I should have seemed to overlook the
favour of your intervention.'


MY LORD, After a long and not inattentive observation of mankind, the
generosity of your Lordship's offer raises in me not less wonder than
gratitude[1081]. Bounty, so liberally bestowed, I should gladly receive,
if my condition made it necessary; for, to such a mind, who would not be
proud to own his obligations? But it has pleased GOD to restore me to so
great a measure of health, that if I should now appropriate so much of a
fortune destined to do good, I could not escape from myself the charge
of advancing a false claim. My journey to the continent, though I once
thought it necessary, was never much encouraged by my physicians; and I
was very desirous that your Lordship should be told of it by Sir Joshua
Reynolds, as an event very uncertain; for if I grew much better, I
should not be willing, if much worse, not able, to migrate. Your
Lordship was first solicited without my knowledge; but, when I was told
that you were pleased to honour me with your patronage, I did not expect
to hear of a refusal; yet, as I have had no long time to brood hope, and
have not rioted in imaginary opulence, this cold reception has been
scarce a disappointment; and, from your Lordship's kindness, I have
received a benefit, which only men like you are able to bestow. I shall
now live _mihi carior_, with a higher opinion of my own merit.

     'I am, my Lord,
        Your Lordship's most obliged,
           Most grateful, and
              Most humble servant,
                       SAM. JOHNSON.'

'September, 1784.'

Upon this unexpected failure I abstain from presuming to make any
remarks, or to offer any conjectures.[1082]

Having after repeated reasonings[1083], brought Dr. Johnson to agree to
my removing to London, and even to furnish me with arguments in favour
of what he had opposed; I wrote to him requesting he would write them
for me; he was so good as to comply, and I shall extract that part of
his letter to me of June 11[1084], as a proof how well he could exhibit
a cautious yet encouraging view of it:--

'I remember, and intreat you to remember, that _virtus est vitium
fugere_[1085]; the first approach to riches is security from poverty.
The condition on which you have my consent to settle in London is, that
your expence never exceeds your annual income. Fixing this basis of
security, you cannot be hurt, and you may be very much advanced. The
loss of your Scottish business, which is all that you can lose, is not
to be reckoned as any equivalent to the hopes and possibilities that
open here upon you. If you succeed, the question of prudence is at an
end; every body will think that done right which ends happily; and
though your expectations, of which I would not advise you to talk too
much, should not be totally answered, you can hardly fail to get friends
who will do for you all that your present situation allows you to hope;
and if, after a few years, you should return to Scotland, you will
return with a mind supplied by various conversation, and many
opportunities of enquiry, with much knowledge, and materials for
reflection and instruction.'

Let us now contemplate Johnson thirty years after the death of his wife,
still retaining for her all the tenderness of affection.



'Perhaps you may remember, that in the year 1753[1087], you committed to
the ground my dear wife. I now entreat your permission to lay a stone
upon her; and have sent the inscription, that, if you find it proper,
you may signify your allowance.

'You will do me a great favour by showing the place where she lies, that
the stone may protect her remains.

'Mr. Ryland[1088] will wait on you for the inscription[1089], and
procure it to be engraved. You will easily believe that I shrink from
this mournful office. When it is done, if I have strength remaining, I
will visit Bromley once again, and pay you part of the respect to which
you have a right from, Reverend Sir,

'Your most humble servant,

'SAM. JOHNSON[1090].'

'July 12, 1784.'

On the same day he wrote to Mr. Langton:--

'I cannot but think that in my languid and anxious state, I have some
reason to complain that I receive from you neither enquiry nor
consolation. You know how much I value your friendship, and with what
confidence I expect your kindness, if I wanted any act of tenderness
that you could perform; at least, if you do not know it, I think your
ignorance is your own fault. Yet how long is it that I have lived almost
in your neighbourhood without the least notice. I do not, however,
consider this neglect as particularly shown to me; I hear two of your
most valuable friends make the same complaint. But why are all thus
overlooked? You are not oppressed by sickness, you are not distracted by
business; if you are sick, you are sick of leisure:--And allow yourself
to be told, that no disease is more to be dreaded or avoided. Rather to
do nothing than to do good, is the lowest state of a degraded mind.
Boileau says to his pupil,

     '_Que les vers ne soient pas votre éternel emploi,
      Cultivez vos amis_[1091].'--

That voluntary debility, which modern language is content to term
indolence, will, if it is not counteracted by resolution, render in time
the strongest faculties lifeless, and turn the flame to the smoke of
virtue. I do not expect nor desire to see you, because I am much pleased
to find that your mother stays so long with you, and I should think you
neither elegant nor grateful, if you did not study her gratification.
You will pay my respects to both the ladies, and to all the young
people. I am going Northward for a while, to try what help the country
can give me; but, if you will write, the letter will come after me.'

Next day he set out on a jaunt to Staffordshire and Derbyshire,
flattering himself that he might be in some degree relieved.

During his absence from London he kept up a correspondence with several
of his friends, from which I shall select what appears to me proper for
publication, without attending nicely to chronological order.

To Dr. BROCKLESBY, he writes, Ashbourne, July 20:--

'The kind attention which you have so long shewn to my health and
happiness, makes it as much a debt of gratitude as a call of interest,
to give you an account of what befals me, when accident recovers[1092]
me from your immediate care. The journey of the first day was performed
with very little sense of fatigue; the second day brought me to
Lichfield, without much lassitude; but I am afraid that I could not have
borne such violent agitation for many days together. Tell Dr. Heberden,
that in the coach I read _Ciceronianus_ which I concluded as I entered
Lichfield. My affection and understanding went along with Erasmus,
except that once or twice he somewhat unskilfully entangles Cicero's
civil or moral, with his rhetorical, character. I staid five days at
Lichfield, but, being unable to walk, had no great pleasure, and
yesterday (19th) I came hither, where I am to try what air and attention
can perform. Of any improvement in my health I cannot yet please myself
with the perception.--The asthma has no abatement. Opiates stop the fit,
so as that I can sit and sometimes lie easy, but they do not now procure
me the power of motion; and I am afraid that my general strength of body
does not encrease. The weather indeed is not benign; but how low is he
sunk whose strength depends upon the weather[1093]! I am now looking
into Floyer[1094] who lived with his asthma to almost his ninetieth
year. His book by want of order is obscure, and his asthma, I think, not
of the same kind with mine. Something however I may perhaps learn. My
appetite still continues keen enough; and what I consider as a symptom
of radical health, I have a voracious delight in raw summer fruit, of
which I was less eager a few years ago[1095]. You will be pleased to
communicate this account to Dr. Heberden, and if any thing is to be
done, let me have your joint opinion. Now--_abite curoe_;--let me
enquire after the Club[1096].'

July 31. 'Not recollecting that Dr. Heberden might be at Windsor, I
thought your letter long in coming. But, you know, _nocitura
petuntur_[1097], the letter which I so much desired, tells me that I
have lost one of my best and tenderest friends[1098]. My comfort is,
that he appeared to live like a man that had always before his eyes the
fragility of our present existence, and was therefore, I hope, not
unprepared to meet his judge. Your attention, dear Sir, and that of Dr.
Heberden, to my health, is extremely kind. I am loth to think that I
grow worse; and cannot fairly prove even to my own partiality, that I
grow much better.'

August 5. 'I return you thanks, dear Sir, for your unwearied attention,
both medicinal and friendly, and hope to prove the effect of your care
by living to acknowledge it.'

August 12[1099]. 'Pray be so kind as to have me in your thoughts, and
mention my case to others as you have opportunity. I seem to myself
neither to gain nor lose strength. I have lately tried milk, but have
yet found no advantage, and am afraid of it merely as a liquid. My
appetite is still good, which I know is dear Dr. Heberden's criterion of
the _vis vitoe_. As we cannot now see each other, do not omit to write,
for you cannot think with what warmth of expectation I reckon the hours
of a post-day.'

August 14. 'I have hitherto sent you only melancholy letters, you will
be glad to hear some better account. Yesterday the asthma remitted,
perceptibly remitted, and I moved with more ease than I have enjoyed for
many weeks. May GOD continue his mercy. This account I would not delay,
because I am not a lover of complaints, or complainers, and yet I have
since we parted uttered nothing till now but terrour and sorrow. Write
to me, dear Sir.'

August 16. 'Better I hope, and better. My respiration gets more and more
ease and liberty. I went to church yesterday, after a very liberal
dinner, without any inconvenience; it is indeed no long walk, but I
never walked it without difficulty, since I came, before.--the intention
was only to overpower the seeming _vis inertioe_ of the pectoral and
pulmonary muscles. I am favoured with a degree of ease that very much
delights me, and do not despair of another race upon the stairs of the
Academy[1100]. If I were, however, of a humour to see, or to shew the
state of my body, on the dark side, I might say,

     _"Quid te exempta juvat spinis de pluribus una[1101]?"_

The nights are still sleepless, and the water rises, though it does not
rise very fast. Let us, however, rejoice in all the good that we have.
The remission of one disease will enable nature to combat the rest. The
squills I have not neglected; for I have taken more than a hundred drops
a day, and one day took two hundred and fifty, which, according to the
popular equivalence of a drop to a grain, is more than half an ounce. I
thank you, dear Sir, for your attention in ordering the medicines; your
attention to me has never failed. If the virtue of medicines could be
enforced by the benevolence of the prescriber, how soon should I
be well.'

August 19. 'The relaxation of the asthma still continues, yet I do not
trust it wholly to itself, but soothe it now and then with an opiate. I
not only perform the perpetual act of respiration with less labour, but
I can walk with fewer intervals of rest, and with greater freedom of
motion. I never thought well of Dr. James's compounded medicines[1102];
his ingredients appeared to me sometimes inefficacious and trifling, and
sometimes heterogeneous and destructive of each other. This prescription
exhibits a composition of about three hundred and thirty grains, in
which there are four grains of emetick tartar, and six drops [of]
thebaick tincture. He that writes thus, surely writes for show. The
basis of his medicine is the gum ammoniacum, which dear Dr. Lawrence
used to give, but of which I never saw any effect. We will, if you
please, let this medicine alone. The squills have every suffrage, and in
the squills we will rest for the present.'

August 21. 'The kindness which you shew by having me in your thoughts
upon all occasions, will, I hope, always fill my heart with gratitude.
Be pleased to return my thanks to Sir George Baker[1103], for the
consideration which he has bestowed upon me. Is this the balloon that
has been so long expected, this balloon to which I subscribed, but
without payment[1104]? It is pity that philosophers have been
disappointed, and shame that they have been cheated; but I know not well
how to prevent either. Of this experiment I have read nothing; where was
it exhibited? and who was the man that ran away with so much money?
Continue, dear Sir, to write often and more at a time; for none of your
prescriptions operate to their proper uses more certainly than your
letters operate as cordials.'

August 26. 'I suffered you to escape last post without a letter, but you
are not to expect such indulgence very often; for I write not so much
because I have any thing to say, as because I hope for an answer; and
the vacancy of my life here makes a letter of great value. I have here
little company and little amusement, and thus abandoned to the
contemplation of my own miseries, I am sometimes gloomy and depressed;
this too I resist as I can, and find opium, I think, useful, but I
seldom take more than one grain. Is not this strange weather? Winter
absorbed the spring, and now autumn is come before we have had summer.
But let not our kindness for each other imitate the inconstancy of
the seasons.'

Sept. 2. 'Mr. Windham has been here to see me; he came, I think, forty
miles out of his way, and staid about a day and a half, perhaps I make
the time shorter than it was. Such conversation I shall not have again
till I come back to the regions of literature; and there Windham is,
_inter stellas_[1105] _Luna minores_[1106].' He then mentions the
effects of certain medicines, as taken; that 'Nature is recovering its
original powers, and the functions returning to their proper state. God
continue his mercies, and grant me to use them rightly.'

Sept. 9. 'Do you know the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire? And have you
ever seen Chatsworth? I was at Chatsworth on Monday: I had indeed seen
it before[1107], but never when its owners were at home; I was very
kindly received, and honestly pressed to stay: but I told them that a
sick man is not a fit inmate of a great house. But I hope to go again
some time.'

Sept. 11. 'I think nothing grows worse, but all rather better, except
sleep, and that of late has been at its old pranks. Last evening, I felt
what I had not known for a long time, an inclination to walk for
amusement; I took a short walk, and came back again neither breathless
nor fatigued. This has been a gloomy, frigid, ungenial summer, but of
late it seems to mend; I hear the heat sometimes mentioned, but I do
not feel it:

     "Praterea minimus gelido jam in corpore sanguis
      Febre calet solá[1108].----"

I hope, however, with good help, to find means of supporting a winter at
home, and to hear and tell at the Club what is doing, and what ought to
be doing in the world. I have no company here, and shall naturally come
home hungry for conversation. To wish you, dear Sir, more leisure, would
not be kind; but what leisure you have, you must bestow upon me.'

Sept. 16. 'I have now let you alone for a long time, having indeed
little to say. You charge me somewhat unjustly with luxury. At
Chatsworth, you should remember, that I have eaten but once; and the
Doctor, with whom I live, follows a milk diet. I grow no fatter, though
my stomach, if it be not disturbed by physick, never fails me. I now
grow weary of solitude, and think of removing next week to Lichfield, a
place of more society, but otherwise of less convenience. When I am
settled, I shall write again. Of the hot weather that you mention, we
have [not] had in Derbyshire very much, and for myself I seldom feel
heat, and suppose that my frigidity is the effect of my distemper; a
supposition which naturally leads me to hope that a hotter climate may
be useful. But I hope to stand another English winter.'

Lichfield, Sept. 29. 'On one day I had three letters about the
air-balloon[1109]: yours was far the best, and has enabled me to impart
to my friends in the country an idea of this species of amusement. In
amusement, mere amusement, I am afraid it must end, for I do not find
that its course can be directed so as that it should serve any purposes
of communication; and it can give no new intelligence of the state of
the air at different heights, till they have ascended above the height
of mountains, which they seem never likely to do. I came hither on the
27th. How long I shall stay I have not determined. My dropsy is gone,
and my asthma much remitted, but I have felt myself a little declining
these two days, or at least to-day; but such vicissitudes must be
expected. One day may be worse than another; but this last month is far
better than the former; if the next should be as much better than this,
I shall run about the town on my own legs.'

October 6. 'The fate of the balloon I do not much lament[1110]: to make
new balloons, is to repeat the jest again. We now know a method of
mounting into the air, and, I think, are not likely to know more. The
vehicles can serve no use till we can guide them; and they can gratify
no curiosity till we mount with them to greater heights than we can
reach without; till we rise above the tops of the highest mountains,
which we have yet not done. We know the state of the air in all its
regions, to the top of Teneriffe, and therefore, learn nothing from
those who navigate a balloon below the clouds. The first experiment,
however, was bold, and deserved applause and reward. But since it has
been performed, and its event is known, I had rather now find a medicine
that can ease an asthma.'

October 25. 'You write to me with a zeal that animates, and a tenderness
that melts me. I am not afraid either of a journey to London, or a
residence in it. I came down with little fatigue, and am now not weaker.
In the smoky atmosphere I was delivered from the dropsy, which I
consider as the original and radical disease. The town is my
element[1111]; there are my friends, there are my books, to which I
have not yet bid farewell, and there are my amusements. Sir Joshua told
me long ago that my vocation was to publick life, and I hope still to
keep my station, till GOD shall bid me _Go in peace_[1112].'


Ashbourne, Aug. 7. 'Since I was here I have two little letters from you,
and have not had the gratitude to write. But every man is most free with
his best friends, because he does not suppose that they can suspect him
of intentional incivility. One reason for my omission is, that being in
a place to which you are wholly a stranger, I have no topicks of
correspondence. If you had any knowledge of Ashbourne, I could tell you
of two Ashbourne men, who, being last week condemned at Derby to be
hanged for a robbery, went and hanged themselves in their cell[1113].
But this, however it may supply us with talk, is nothing to you. Your
kindness, I know, would make you glad to hear some good of me, but I
have not much good to tell; if I grow not worse, it is all that I can
say. I hope Mrs. Hoole receives more help from her migration. Make her
my compliments, and write again to, dear Sir, your affectionate servant.'

Aug. 13. 'I thank you for your affectionate letter. I hope we shall both
be the better for each other's friendship, and I hope we shall not very
quickly be parted. Tell Mr. Nicholls that I shall be glad of his
correspondence, when his business allows him a little remission; though
to wish him less business, that I may have more pleasure, would be too
selfish. To pay for seats at the balloon is not very necessary, because
in less than a minute, they who gaze at a mile's distance will see all
that can be seen. About the wings[1114] I am of your mind; they cannot
at all assist it, nor I think regulate its motion. I am now grown
somewhat easier in my body, but my mind is sometimes depressed. About
the Club I am in no great pain. The forfeitures go on, and the house, I
hear, is improved for our future meetings. I hope we shall meet often
and sit long.'

Sept. 4. 'Your letter was, indeed, long in coming, but it was very
welcome. Our acquaintance has now subsisted long[1115] and our
recollection of each other involves a great space, and many little
occurrences, which melt the thoughts to tenderness. Write to me,
therefore, as frequently as you can. I hear from Dr. Brocklesby and Mr.
Ryland, that the Club is not crouded. I hope we shall enliven it when
winter brings us together.'


August 2. 'The weather, you know, has not been balmy; I am now reduced
to think, and am at last content to talk of the weather. Pride must have
a fall[1116]. I have lost dear Mr. Allen, and wherever I turn, the dead
or the dying meet my notice, and force my attention upon misery and
mortality. Mrs. Burney's escape from so much danger, and her ease after
so much pain, throws, however, some radiance of hope upon the gloomy
prospect. May her recovery be perfect, and her continuance long. I
struggle hard for life. I take physick, and take air; my friend's
chariot is always ready. We have run this morning twenty-four miles, and
could run forty-eight more. _But who can run the race with death?_'

'Sept. 4. [Concerning a private transaction, in which his opinion was
asked, and after giving it he makes the following reflections, which are
applicable on other occasions.] Nothing deserves more compassion than
wrong conduct with good meaning; than loss or obloquy suffered by one
who, as he is conscious only of good intentions, wonders why he loses
that kindness which he wishes to preserve; and not knowing his own
fault, if, as may sometimes happen, nobody will tell him, goes on to
offend by his endeavours to please. I am delighted by finding that our
opinions are the same. You will do me a real kindness by continuing to
write. A post-day has now been long a day of recreation.'

Nov. 1. 'Our correspondence paused for want of topicks. I had said what
I had to say on the matter proposed to my consideration; and nothing
remained but to tell you, that I waked or slept; that I was more or less
sick. I drew my thoughts in upon myself, and supposed yours employed
upon your book. That your book[1117] has been delayed I am glad, since
you have gained an opportunity of being more exact. Of the caution
necessary in adjusting narratives there is no end. Some tell what they
do not know, that they may not seem ignorant, and others from mere
indifference about truth. All truth is not, indeed, of equal importance;
but, if little violations are allowed, every violation will in time be
thought little; and a writer should keep himself vigilantly on his guard
against the first temptations to negligence or supineness. I had ceased
to write, because respecting you I had no more to say, and respecting
myself could say little good. I cannot boast of advancement, and in
cases of convalescence it may be said, with few exceptions, _non
progredi, est regredi_. I hope I may be excepted. My great difficulty
was with my sweet Fanny[1118], who, by her artifice of inserting her
letter in yours, had given me a precept of frugality[1119] which I was
not at liberty to neglect; and I know not who were in town under whose
cover I could send my letter[1120]. I rejoice to hear that you are all
so well, and have a delight particularly sympathetick in the recovery of
Mrs. Burney.'


Aug. 25. 'The kindness of your last letter, and my omission to answer
it, begins to give you, even in my opinion, a right to recriminate, and
to charge me with forgetfulness for the absent. I will, therefore, delay
no longer to give an account of myself, and wish I could relate what
would please either myself or my friend. On July 13, I left London,
partly in hope of help from new air and change of place, and partly
excited by the sick man's impatience of the present. I got to Lichfield
in a stage vehicle, with very little fatigue, in two days, and had the
consolation[1121] to find, that since my last visit my three old
acquaintance are all dead. July 20, I went to Ashbourne, where I have
been till now; the house in which we live is repairing. I live in too
much solitude, and am often deeply dejected: I wish we were nearer, and
rejoice in your removal to London. A friend, at once cheerful and
serious, is a great acquisition. Let us not neglect one another for the
little time which Providence allows us to hope. Of my health I cannot
tell you, what my wishes persuaded me to expect, that it is much
improved by the season or by remedies. I am sleepless; my legs grow
weary with a very few steps, and the water breaks its boundaries in some
degree. The asthma, however, has remitted; my breath is still much
obstructed, but is more free than it was. Nights of watchfulness produce
torpid days; I read very little, though I am alone; for I am tempted to
supply in the day what I lost in bed. This is my history; like all other
histories, a narrative of misery. Yet am I so much better than in the
beginning of the year, that I ought to be ashamed of complaining. I now
sit and write with very little sensibility of pain or weakness; but when
I rise, I shall find my legs betraying me. Of the money which you
mentioned, I have no immediate need; keep it, however, for me, unless
some exigence requires it. Your papers I will shew you certainly when
you would see them, but I am a little angry at you for not keeping
minutes of your own _acceptum et expensum_[1122], and think a little
time might be spared from Aristophanes, for the _res familiares_.
Forgive me for I mean well. I hope, dear Sir, that you and Lady Rothes,
and all the young people, too many to enumerate, are well and happy. GOD
bless you all.'


August. 'The tenderness with which you have been pleased to treat me,
through my long illness, neither health nor sickness can, I hope, make
me forget; and you are not to suppose, that after we parted you were no
longer in my mind. But what can a sick man say, but that he is sick? His
thoughts are necessarily concentered in himself; he neither receives nor
can give delight; his enquiries are after alleviations of pain, and his
efforts are to catch some momentary comfort. Though I am now in the
neighbourhood of the Peak, you must expect no account of its wonders, of
its hills, its waters, its caverns, or its mines; but I will tell you,
dear Sir, what I hope you will not hear with less satisfaction, that,
for about a week past, my asthma has been less afflictive.'

Lichfield. October 2[1123]. 'I believe you have been long enough
acquainted with the _phoenomena_ of sickness, not to be surprised that a
sick man wishes to be where he is not, and where it appears to every
body but himself that he might easily be, without having the resolution
to remove. I thought Ashbourne a solitary place, but did not come hither
till last Monday. I have here more company, but my health has for this
last week not advanced; and in the languor of disease how little can be
done? Whither or when I shall make my next remove I cannot tell; but I
entreat you, dear Sir, to let me know, from time to time, where you may
be found, for your residence is a very powerful attractive to, Sir, your
most humble servant.'


'I cannot but flatter myself that your kindness for me will make you
glad to know where I am, and in what state.

'I have been struggling very hard with my diseases. My breath has been
very much obstructed, and the water has attempted to encroach upon me
again. I past the first part of the summer at Oxford, afterwards I went
to Lichfield, thence to Ashbourne, in Derbyshire, and a week ago I
returned to Lichfield.

'My breath is now much easier, and the water is in a great measure run
away, so that I hope to see you again before winter.

'Please to make my compliments to Mrs. Perkins, and to Mr. and Mrs.

'I am, dear Sir, 'Your most humble servant, 'SAM. JOHNSON.' 'Lichfield,
Oct. 4, 1784.'


'Considering what reason[1124] you gave me in the spring to conclude
that you took part in whatever good or evil might befal me, I ought not
to have omitted so long the account which I am now about to give you. My
diseases are an asthma and a dropsy, and, what is less curable,
seventy-five. Of the dropsy, in the beginning of the summer, or in the
spring, I recovered to a degree which struck with wonder both me and my
physicians: the asthma now is likewise, for a time, very much relieved.
I went to Oxford, where the asthma was very tyrannical, and the dropsy
began again to threaten me; but seasonable physick stopped the
inundation: I then returned to London, and in July took a resolution to
visit Staffordshire and Derbyshire, where I am yet struggling with my
diseases. The dropsy made another attack, and was not easily ejected,
but at last gave way. The asthma suddenly remitted in bed, on the 13th
of August, and, though now very oppressive, is, I think, still something
gentler than it was before the remission. My limbs are miserably
debilitated, and my nights are sleepless and tedious. When you read
this, dear Sir, you are not sorry that I wrote no sooner. I will not
prolong my complaints. I hope still to see you _in a happier
hour_[1125], to talk over what we have often talked, and perhaps to find
new topicks of merriment, or new incitements to curiosity. I am, dear
Sir, &c. SAM. JOHNSON. Lichfield, Oct. 20, 1784.'



Though in all my summer's excursion I have given you no account of
myself, I hope you think better of me than to imagine it possible for me
to forget you, whose kindness to me has been too great and too constant
not to have made its impression on a harder breast than mine. Silence is
not very culpable when nothing pleasing is suppressed. It would have
alleviated none of your complaints to have read my vicissitudes of evil.
I have struggled hard with very formidable and obstinate maladies; and
though I cannot talk of health, think all praise due to my Creator and
Preserver for the continuance of my life. The dropsy has made two
attacks, and has given way to medicine; the asthma is very oppressive,
but that has likewise once remitted. I am very weak, and very sleepless;
but it is time to conclude the tale of misery. I hope, dear Sir, that
you grow better, for you have likewise your share of human evil, and
that your lady and the young charmers are well.

I am, dear Sir, &c. SAM. JOHNSON.

Lichfield, Oct. 20, 1784.'

'To Mr. George Nicol[1127].

'Dear Sir,
'Since we parted, I have been much oppressed by my asthma, but it has
lately been less laborious. When I sit I am almost at ease, and I can
walk, though yet very little, with less difficulty for this week past,
than before. I hope I shall again enjoy my friends, and that you and I
shall have a little more literary conversation. Where I now am, every
thing is very liberally provided for me but conversation. My friend is
sick himself, and the reciprocation of complaints and groans affords not
much of either pleasure or instruction. What we have not at home this
town does not supply, and I shall be glad of a little imported
intelligence, and hope that you will bestow, now and then, a little time
on the relief and entertainment of, Sir, 'Yours, &c. 'Sam. Johnson.'

'Ashbourne, Aug. 19, 1784.'

'To Mr. Cruikshank.

'Dear Sir,

'Do not suppose that I forget you; I hope I shall never be accused of
forgetting my benefactors[1128]. I had, till lately, nothing to write
but complaints upon complaints, of miseries upon miseries; but within
this fortnight I have received great relief. Have your Lectures any
vacation? If you are released from the necessity of daily study, you may
find time for a letter to me. [In this letter he states the particulars
of his case.] In return for this account of my health, let me have a
good account of yours, and of your prosperity in all your undertakings.

'I am, dear Sir, yours, &c. 'Sam. Johnson.' 'Ashbourne, Sept. 4, 1784.'

To Mr. Thomas Davies:--

August 14. 'The tenderness with which you always treat me, makes me
culpable in my own eyes for having omitted to write in so long a
separation; I had, indeed, nothing to say that you could wish to hear.
All has been hitherto misery accumulated upon misery, disease
corroborating disease, till yesterday my asthma was perceptibly and
unexpectedly mitigated. I am much comforted with this short relief, and
am willing to flatter myself that it may continue and improve. I have at
present, such a degree of ease, as not only may admit the comforts, but
the duties of life. Make my compliments to Mrs. Davies. Poor dear Allen,
he was a good man.'


Ashbourne, July 21. 'The tenderness with which I am treated by my
friends, makes it reasonable to suppose that they are desirous to know
the state of my health, and a desire so benevolent ought to be
gratified. I came to Lichfield in two days without any painful fatigue,
and on Monday came hither, where I purpose to stay: and try what air and
regularity will effect. I cannot yet persuade myself that I have made
much progress in recovery. My sleep is little, my breath is very much
encumbered, and my legs are very weak. The water has encreased a little,
but has again run off. The most distressing symptom is want of sleep.'

August 19. 'Having had since our separation, little to say that could
please you or myself by saying, I have not been lavish of useless
letters; but I flatter myself that you will partake of the pleasure with
which I can now tell you that about a week ago, I felt suddenly a
sensible remission of my asthma, and consequently a greater lightness of
action and motion. Of this grateful alleviation I know not the cause,
nor dare depend upon its continuance, but while it lasts I endeavour to
enjoy it, and am desirous of communicating, while it lasts, my pleasure
to my friends. Hitherto, dear Sir, I had written before the post, which
stays in this town but a little while, brought me your letter. Mr.
Davies seems to have represented my little tendency to recovery in terms
too splendid. I am still restless, still weak, still watery, but the
asthma is less oppressive. Poor Ramsay[1129]! On which side soever I
turn, mortality presents its formidable frown. I left three old friends
at Lichfield when I was last there, and now found them all dead. I no
sooner lose sight of dear Allen, than I am told that I shall see him no
more. That we must all die, we always knew; I wish I had sooner
remembered it. Do not think me intrusive or importunate, if I now call,
dear Sir, on you to remember it.'

Sept. 2. 'I am glad that a little favour from the court has intercepted
your furious purposes[1130]. I could not in any case have approved such
publick violence of resentment, and should have considered any who
encouraged it, as rather seeking sport for themselves, than honour for
you. Resentment gratifies him who intended an injury, and pains him
unjustly who did not intend it. But all this is now superfluous. I still
continue by GOD'S mercy to mend. My breath is easier, my nights are
quieter, and my legs are less in bulk, and stronger in use. I have,
however, yet a great deal to overcome, before I can yet attain even an
old man's health. Write, do write to me now and then; we are now old
acquaintance, and perhaps few people have lived so much and so long
together, with less cause of complaint on either side. The retrospection
of this is very pleasant, and I hope we shall never think on each other
with less kindness.'

Sept. 9. 'I could not answer your letter[1131] before this day, because
I went on the sixth to Chatsworth, and did not come back till the post
was gone. Many words, I hope, are not necessary between you and me, to
convince you what gratitude is excited in my heart, by the Chancellor's
liberality and your kind offices. I did not indeed expect that what was
asked by the Chancellor would have been refused[1132], but since it has,
we will not tell that any thing has been asked. I have enclosed a letter
to the Chancellor which, when you have read it, you will be pleased to
seal with a head, or other general seal, and convey it to him; had I
sent it directly to him, I should have seemed to overlook the favour of
your intervention. My last letter told you of my advance in health,
which, I think, in the whole still continues. Of the hydropick tumour
there is now very little appearance; the asthma is much less
troublesome, and seems to remit something day after day. I do not
despair of supporting an English winter. At Chatsworth, I met young Mr.
Burke, who led me very commodiously into conversation with the Duke and
Duchess. We had a very good morning. The dinner was publick[1133].'

Sept. 18. 'I flattered myself that this week would have given me a
letter from you, but none has come. Write to me now and then, but direct
your next to Lichfield. I think, and I hope, am sure, that I still grow
better; I have sometimes good nights; but am still in my legs weak, but
so much mended, that I go to Lichfield in hope of being able to pay my
visits on foot, for there are no coaches. I have three letters this day,
all about the balloon, I could have been content with one. Do not write
about the balloon, whatever else you may think proper to say[1134].'

October 2. 'I am always proud of your approbation, and therefore was
much pleased that you liked my letter. When you copied it[1135], you
invaded the Chancellor's right rather than mine. The refusal I did not
expect, but I had never thought much about it, for I doubted whether the
Chancellor had so much tenderness for me as to ask. He, being keeper of
the King's conscience, ought not to be supposed capable of an improper
petition. All is not gold that glitters, as we have often been told; and
the adage is verified in your place[1136] and my favour; but if what
happens does not make us richer, we must bid it welcome, if it makes us
wiser. I do not at present grow better, nor much worse; my hopes,
however, are somewhat abated, and a very great loss is the loss of hope,
but I struggle on as I can.'


Lichfield, Oct. 20. 'When you were here, you were pleased, as I am told,
to think my absence an inconvenience. I should certainly have been very
glad to give so skilful a lover of antiquities any information about my
native place, of which, however, I know not much, and have reason to
believe that not much is known. Though I have not given you any
amusement, I have received amusement from you. At Ashbourne, where I had
very little company, I had the luck to borrow _Mr. Bowyer's Life_[1137];
a book so full of contemporary history, that a literary man must find
some of his old friends. I thought that I could, now and then, have told
you some hints[1138] worth your notice; and perhaps we may talk a life
over. I hope we shall be much together; you must now be to me what you
were before, and what dear Mr. Allen was, besides. He was taken
unexpectedly away, but I think he was a very good man. I have made
little progress in recovery. I am very weak, and very sleepless; but I
live on and hope[1139].'

This various mass of correspondence, which I have thus brought together,
is valuable, both as an addition to the store which the publick already
has of Johnson's writings, and as exhibiting a genuine and noble
specimen of vigour and vivacity of mind, which neither age nor sickness
could impair or diminish.

It may be observed, that his writing in every way, whether for the
publick, or privately to his friends, was by fits and starts; for we see
frequently, that many letters are written on the same day. When he had
once overcome his aversion to begin, he was, I suppose, desirous to go
on, in order to relieve his mind from the uneasy reflection of delaying
what he ought to do[1140].

While in the country, notwithstanding the accumulation of illness which
he endured, his mind did not lose its powers. He translated an Ode of
Horace[1141], which is printed in his _Works_, and composed several
prayers. I shall insert one of them, which is so wise and energetick, so
philosophical and so pious, that I doubt not of its affording
consolation to many a sincere Christian, when in a state of mind to
which I believe the best are sometimes liable[1142].

And here I am enabled fully to refute a very unjust reflection, by Sir
John Hawkins[1143], both against Dr. Johnson, and his faithful servant,
Mr. Francis Barber[1144]; as if both of them had been guilty of culpable
neglect towards a person of the name of Heely, whom Sir John chooses to
call a _relation_ of Dr. Johnson's. The fact is, that Mr. Heely was not
his relation; he had indeed been married to one of his cousins, but she
had died without having children, and he had married another woman; so
that even the slight connection which there once had been by _alliance_
was dissolved. Dr. Johnson, who had shewn very great liberality to this
man while his first wife was alive, as has appeared in a former part of
this work[1145], was humane and charitable enough to continue his bounty
to him occasionally; but surely there was no strong call of duty upon
him or upon his legatee, to do more. The following letter, obligingly
communicated to me by Mr. Andrew Strahan, will confirm what I
have stated:--



'As necessity obliges you to call so soon again upon me, you should at
least have told the smallest sum that will supply your present want; you
cannot suppose that I have much to spare. Two guineas is as much as you
ought to be behind with your creditor. If you wait on Mr. Strahan, in
New-street, Fetter-lane, or in his absence, on Mr. Andrew Strahan, shew
this, by which they are entreated to advance you two guineas, and to
keep this as a voucher.

'I am, Sir,

'Your humble servant,


'Ashbourne, Aug. 12, 1784.'

Indeed it is very necessary to keep in mind that Sir John Hawkins has
unaccountably viewed Johnson's character and conduct in almost every
particular, with an unhappy prejudice[1146].

We now behold Johnson for the last time, in his native city, for which
he ever retained a warm affection, and which, by a sudden apostrophe,
under the word _Lich_[1147], he introduces with reverence, into his
immortal Work, THE ENGLISH DICTIONARY:--_Salve, magna parens![1148]
While here, he felt a revival of all the tenderness of filial affection,
an instance of which appeared in his ordering the grave-stone and
inscription over Elizabeth Blaney[1149] to be substantially and
carefully renewed.

To Mr. Henry White[1150], a young clergyman, with whom he now formed an
intimacy, so as to talk to him with great freedom, he mentioned that he
could not in general accuse himself of having been an undutiful son.
'Once, indeed, (said he,) I was disobedient; I refused to attend my
father to Uttoxeter-market. Pride was the source of that refusal, and
the remembrance of it was painful. A few years ago, I desired to atone
for this fault; I went to Uttoxeter in very bad weather, and stood for a
considerable time bareheaded in the rain, on the spot where my father's
stall used to stand. In contrition I stood, and I hope the penance was

'I told him (says Miss Seward) in one of my latest visits to him, of a
wonderful learned pig, which I had seen at Nottingham; and which did all
that we have observed exhibited by dogs and horses. The subject amused
him. 'Then, (said he,) the pigs are a race unjustly calumniated. _Pig_
has, it seems, not been wanting to _man_, but _man_ to _pig_. We do not
allow _time_ for his education, we kill him at a year old.' Mr. Henry
White, who was present, observed that if this instance had happened in
or before Pope's time, he would not have been justified in instancing
the swine as the lowest degree of groveling instinct[1152]. Dr. Johnson
seemed pleased with the observation, while the person who made it
proceeded to remark, that great torture must have been employed, ere the
indocility of the animal could have been subdued. 'Certainly, (said the
Doctor;) but, (turning to me,) how old is your pig?' I told him, three
years old. 'Then, (said he,) the pig has no cause to complain; he would
have been killed the first year if he had not been _educated_, and
protracted existence is a good recompence for very considerable degrees
of torture[1153].'

As Johnson had now very faint hopes of recovery, and as Mrs. Thrale was
no longer devoted to him, it might have been supposed that he would
naturally have chosen to remain in the comfortable house of his beloved
wife's daughter, and end his life where he began it. But there was in
him an animated and lofty spirit[1154], and however complicated diseases
might depress ordinary mortals, all who saw him, beheld and acknowledged
the _invictum animum Catonis_[1155]. Such was his intellectual ardour
even at this time, that he said to one friend, 'Sir, I look upon every
day to be lost, in which I do not make a new acquaintance[1156];' and to
another, when talking of his illness, 'I will be conquered; I will not
capitulate[1157].' And such was his love of London, so high a relish
had he of its magnificent extent, and variety of intellectual
entertainment, that he languished when absent from it, his mind having
become quite luxurious from the long habit of enjoying the metropolis;
and, therefore, although at Lichfield, surrounded with friends, who
loved and revered him, and for whom he had a very sincere affection, he
still found that such conversation as London affords, could be found no
where else. These feelings, joined, probably, to some flattering hopes
of aid from the eminent physicians and surgeons in London, who kindly
and generously attended him without accepting fees, made him resolve to
return to the capital. From Lichfield he came to Birmingham, where he
passed a few days with his worthy old schoolfellow, Mr. Hector, who thus
writes to me:--

'He was very solicitous with me to recollect some of our most early
transactions, and transmit them to him, for I perceive nothing gave him
greater pleasure than calling to mind those days of our innocence. I
complied with his request, and he only received them a few days before
his death. I have transcribed for your inspection, exactly the minutes I
wrote to him.'

This paper having been found in his repositories after his death, Sir
John Hawkins has inserted it entire[1158], and I have made occasional
use of it and other communications from Mr. Hector[1159], in the course
of this Work. I have both visited and corresponded with him since Dr.
Johnson's death, and by my inquiries concerning a great variety of
particulars have obtained additional information. I followed the same
mode with the Reverend Dr. Taylor, in whose presence I wrote down a good
deal of what he could tell; and he, at my request, signed his name, to
give it authenticity. It is very rare to find any person who is able to
give a distinct account of the life even of one whom he has known
intimately, without questions being put to them. My friend Dr.
Kippis[1160] has told me, that on this account it is a practice with him
to draw out a biographical catechism.

Johnson then proceeded to Oxford, where he was again kindly received by
Dr. Adams[1161], who was pleased to give me the following account in one
of his letters, (Feb. 17th, 1785):--

'His last visit was, I believe, to my house, which he left, after a stay
of four or five days. We had much serious talk together, for which I
ought to be the better as long as I live. You will remember some
discourse which we had in the summer upon the subject of prayer, and the
difficulty of this sort of composition[1162]. He reminded me of this,
and of my having wished him to try his hand, and to give us a specimen
of the style and manner that he approved. He added, that he was now in a
right frame of mind, and as he could not possibly employ his time
better, he would in earnest set about it. But I find upon enquiry, that
no papers of this sort were left behind him, except a few short
ejaculatory forms suitable to his present situation.'

Dr. Adams had not then received accurate information on this subject;
for it has since appeared that various prayers had been composed by him
at different periods, which, intermingled with pious resolutions, and
some short notes of his life, were entitled by him _Prayers and
Meditations_, and have, in pursuance of his earnest requisition, in
the hopes of doing good, been published, with a judicious well-written
Preface, by the Reverend Mr. Strahan, to whom he delivered them[1163].
This admirable collection, to which I have frequently referred in the
course of this Work, evinces, beyond all his compositions for the
publick, and all the eulogies of his friends and admirers, the sincere
virtue and piety of Johnson. It proves with unquestionable authenticity,
that amidst all his constitutional infirmities, his earnestness to
conform his practice to the precepts of Christianity was unceasing, and
that he habitually endeavoured to refer every transaction of his life to
the will of the Supreme Being.

He arrived in London on the 16th of November, and next day sent to Dr.
Burney the following note, which I insert as the last token of his
remembrance of that ingenious and amiable man, and as another of the
many proofs of the tenderness and benignity of his heart:--

'MR. JOHNSON, who came home last night, sends his respects to dear Dr.
Burney, and all the dear Burneys, little and great[1164].'



'I did not reach Oxford until Friday morning, and then I sent Francis to
see the balloon fly, but could not go myself. I staid at Oxford till
Tuesday, and then came in the common vehicle easily to London. I am as I
was, and having seen Dr. Brocklesby, am to ply the squills; but,
whatever be their efficacy, this world must soon pass away. Let us think
seriously on our duty. I send my kindest respects to dear Mrs.
Careless[1165]: let me have the prayers of both. We have all lived long,
and must soon part. GOD have mercy on us, for the sake of our Lord JESUS

'I am, &c.


'London, Nov. 17, 1784.'

His correspondence with me, after his letter on the subject of my
settling in London, shall now, so far as is proper, be produced in
one series:--

July 26, he wrote to me from Ashbourne:--

'On the 14th I came to Lichfield, and found every body glad enough to
see me. On the 20th, I came hither, and found a house half-built, of
very uncomfortable appearance; but my own room has not been altered.
That a man worn with diseases, in his seventy-second or third year,
should condemn part of his remaining life to pass among ruins and
rubbish, and that no inconsiderable part, appears to me very strange. I
know that your kindness makes you impatient to know the state of my
health, in which I cannot boast of much improvement. I came through the
journey without much inconvenience, but when I attempt self-motion I
find my legs weak, and my breath very short; this day I have been much
disordered. I have no company; the Doctor[1166] is busy in his fields,
and goes to bed at nine, and his whole system is so different from mine,
that we seem formed for different elements[1167]; I have, therefore,
all my amusement to seek within myself.'

Having written to him, in bad spirits, a letter filled with dejection
and fretfulness, and at the same time expressing anxious apprehensions
concerning him, on account of a dream which had disturbed me; his answer
was chiefly in terms of reproach, for a supposed charge of 'affecting
discontent, and indulging the vanity of complaint.' It, however,

'Write to me often, and write like a man. I consider your fidelity and
tenderness as a great part of the comforts which are yet left me, and
sincerely wish we could be nearer to each other.... My dear friend, life
is very short and very uncertain; let us spend it as well as we can. My
worthy neighbour, Allen, is dead. Love me as well as you can. Pay my
respects to dear Mrs. Boswell. Nothing ailed me at that time; let your
superstition at last have an end.'

Feeling very soon, that the manner in which he had written might hurt
me, he two days afterwards, July 28, wrote to me again, giving me an
account of his sufferings; after which, he thus proceeds:--

'Before this letter, you will have had one which I hope you will not
take amiss; for it contains only truth, and that truth kindly
intended.... _Spartam quam nactus es orna_[1168]; make the most and best
of your lot, and compare yourself not with the few that are above you,
but with the multitudes which are below you.... Go steadily forward with
lawful business or honest diversions. _Be_ (as Temple says of the
Dutchmen) _well when you are not ill, and pleased when you are not
angry_[1169].... This may seem but an ill return for your tenderness;
but I mean it well, for I love you with great ardour and sincerity. Pay
my respects to dear Mrs. Boswell, and teach the young ones to love me.'

I unfortunately was so much indisposed during a considerable part of
the year, that it was not, or at least I thought it was not in my power
to write to my illustrious friend as formerly, or without expressing
such complaints as offended him. Having conjured him not to do me the
injustice of charging me with affectation, I was with much regret long
silent. His last letter to me then came, and affected me very



'I have this summer sometimes amended, and sometimes relapsed, but, upon
the whole, have lost ground, very much. My legs are extremely weak, and
my breath very short, and the water is now encreasing upon me. In this
uncomfortable state your letters used to relieve; what is the reason
that I have them no longer? Are you sick, or are you sullen? Whatever be
the reason, if it be less than necessity, drive it away; and of the
short life that we have, make the best use for yourself and for your
friends.... I am sometimes afraid that your omission to write has some
real cause, and shall be glad to know that you are not sick, and that
nothing ill has befallen dear Mrs. Boswell, or any of your family.

'I am, Sir, your, &c.


'Lichfield, Nov. 5, 1784.'

Yet it was not a little painful to me to find, that in a paragraph of
this letter, which I have omitted, he still persevered in arraigning me
as before, which was strange in him who had so much experience of what I
suffered. I, however, wrote to him two as kind letters as I could; the
last of which came too late to be read by him, for his illness encreased
more rapidly upon him than I had apprehended; but I had the consolation
of being informed that he spoke of me on his death-bed, with affection,
and I look forward with humble hope of renewing our friendship in a
better world.

I now relieve the readers of this Work from any farther personal notice
of its authour, who if he should be thought to have obtruded himself too
much upon their attention, requests them to consider the peculiar plan
of his biographical undertaking.

Soon after Johnson's return to the metropolis, both the asthma and
dropsy became more violent and distressful. He had for some time kept a
journal in Latin of the state of his illness, and the remedies which he
used, under the title of _Aegri Ephemeris_, which he began on the 6th of
July, but continued it no longer than the 8th of November; finding, I
suppose, that it was a mournful and unavailing register. It is in my
possession; and is written with great care and accuracy.

Still his love of literature[1170] did not fail. A very few days before
his death he transmitted to his friend Mr. John Nichols, a list of the
authours of the _Universal History_, mentioning their several shares in
that work. It has, according to his direction, been deposited in the
British Museum, and is printed in the _Gentleman's Magazine_ for
December, 1784.

During his sleepless nights he amused himself by translating into Latin
verse, from the Greek, many of the epigrams in the Anthologica[1171].
These translations, with some other poems by him in Latin, he gave to
his friend Mr. Langton, who, having added a few notes, sold them to the
booksellers for a small sum, to be given to some of Johnson's relations,
which was accordingly done; and they are printed in the collection of
his works.

A very erroneous notion has circulated as to Johnson's deficiency in the
knowledge of the Greek language, partly owing to the modesty with which,
from knowing how much there was to be learnt, he used to mention his own
comparative acquisitions. When Mr. Cumberland[1172] talked to him of the
Greek fragments which are so well illustrated in The Observer[1173],
and of the Greek dramatists in general, he candidly acknowledged his
insufficiency in that particular branch of Greek literature. Yet it may
be said, that though not a great, he was a good Greek scholar. Dr.
Charles Burney[1174], the younger, who is universally acknowledged by
the best judges to be one of the few men of this age who are very
eminent for their skill in that noble language, has assured me, that
Johnson could give a Greek word for almost every English one; and that
although not sufficiently conversant in the niceties of the language, he
upon some occasions discovered, even in these, a considerable degree of
critical acumen. Mr. Dalzel, Professor of Greek at Edinburgh, whose
skill in it is unquestionable, mentioned to me, in very liberal terms,
the impression which was made upon him by Johnson, in a conversation
which they had in London concerning that language. As Johnson,
therefore, was undoubtedly one of the first Latin scholars in modern
times, let us not deny to his fame some additional splendour from

I shall now fulfil my promise[1176] of exhibiting specimens of various
sorts of imitation of Johnson's style.

In the _Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy_, 1787, there is an
'Essay on the Style of Dr. Samuel Johnson,' by the Reverend Robert
Burrowes, whose respect for the great object of his criticism[1177] is
thus evinced in the concluding paragraph:--

'I have singled him out from the whole body of English writers, because
his universally-acknowledged beauties would be most apt to induce
imitation; and I have treated rather on his faults than his perfections,
because an essay might comprize all the observations I could make upon
his faults, while volumes would not be sufficient for a treatise on his

Mr. BURROWES has analysed the composition of Johnson, and pointed out
its peculiarities with much acuteness; and I would recommend a careful
perusal of his Essay to those, who being captivated by the union of
perspicuity and splendour which the writings of Johnson contain, without
having a sufficient portion of his vigour of mind, may be in danger of
becoming bad copyists of his manner. I, however, cannot but observe, and
I observe it to his credit, that this learned gentleman has himself
caught no mean degree of the expansion and harmony, which, independent
of all other circumstances, characterise the sentences of Johnson. Thus,
in the Preface to the volume in which his Essay appears, we find,--

'If it be said that in societies of this sort, too much attention is
frequently bestowed on subjects barren and speculative, it may be
answered, that no one science is so little connected with the rest, as
not to afford many principles whose use may extend considerably beyond
the science to which they primarily belong; and that no proposition is
so purely theoretical as to be totally incapable of being applied to
practical purposes. There is no apparent connection between duration and
the cycloidal arch, the properties of which duly attended to, have
furnished us with our best regulated methods of measuring time: and he
who has made himself master of the nature and affections of the
logarithmick curve, is not aware that he has advanced considerably
towards ascertaining the proportionable density of the air at its
various distances from the surface of the earth.'

The ludicrous imitators of Johnson's style are innumerable. Their
general method is to accumulate hard words, without considering, that,
although he was fond of introducing them occasionally, there is not a
single sentence in all his writings where they are crowded together, as
in the first verse of the following imaginary Ode by him to Mrs.
Thrale[1178], which appeared in the newspapers:--

     '_Cervisial coctor's viduate_ dame,
      _Opin'st_ thou this gigantick frame,
        _Procumbing_ at thy shrine:
      Shall, _catenated_ by thy charms,
      A captive in thy _ambient_ arms,
        _Perennially_ be thine?'

This, and a thousand other such attempts, are totally unlike the
original, which the writers imagined they were turning into ridicule.
There is not similarity enough for burlesque, or even for caricature.

Mr. COLMAN, in his _Prose on several occasions_, has _A Letter from
LEXIPHANES[1179]; containing Proposals for a Glossary or Vocabulary of
the Vulgar Tongue: intended as a Supplement to a larger DICTIONARY_. It
is evidently meant as a sportive sally of ridicule on Johnson, whose
style is thus imitated, without being grossly overcharged:--

'It is easy to foresee, that the idle and illiterate will complain that
I have increased their labours by endeavouring to diminish them; and
that I have explained what is more easy by what is more difficult--
_ignotum per ignotius_. I expect, on the other hand, the liberal
acknowledgements of the learned. He who is buried in scholastick
retirement, secluded from the assemblies of the gay, and remote from the
circles of the polite, will at once comprehend the definitions, and be
grateful for such a seasonable and necessary elucidation of his

Annexed to this letter is a short specimen of the work, thrown together
in a vague and desultory manner, not even adhering to alphabetical

The serious imitators of Johnson's style, whether intentionally or by
the imperceptible effect of its strength and animation, are, as I have
had already occasion to observe, so many, that I might introduce
quotations from a numerous body of writers in our language, since he
appeared in the literary world. I shall point out only the following:--


'In other parts of the globe, man, in his rudest state, appears as lord
of the creation, giving law to various tribes of animals which he has
tamed and reduced to subjection. The Tartar follows his prey on the
horse which he has reared, or tends his numerous herds, which furnish
him both with food and clothing; the Arab has rendered the camel docile,
and avails himself of its persevering strength; the Laplander has formed
the rein-deer to be subservient to his will; and even the people of
Kamschatka have trained their dogs to labour. This command over the
inferiour creatures is one of the noblest prerogatives of man, and among
the greatest efforts of his wisdom and power. Without this, his dominion
is incomplete. He is a monarch who has no subjects; a master without
servants; and must perform every operation by the strength of his own


'Of all our passions and appetites, the love of power is of the most
imperious and unsociable nature, since the pride of one man requires the
submission of the multitude. In the tumult of civil discord the laws of
society lose their force, and their place is seldom supplied by those of
humanity. The ardour of contention, the pride of victory, the despair of
success, the memory of past injuries, and the fear of future dangers,
all contribute to inflame the mind, and to silence the voice of


'My family, mistaking ambition for honour, and rank for dignity, have
long planned a splendid connection for me, to which, though my
invariable repugnance has stopped any advances, their wishes and their
views immovably adhere. I am but too certain they will now listen to no
other. I dread, therefore, to make a trial where I despair of success; I
know not how to risk a prayer with those who may silence me by a


'In an enlightened and improving age, much perhaps is not to be
apprehended from the inroads of mere caprice; at such a period it will
generally be perceived, that needless irregularity is the worst of all
deformities, and that nothing is so truly elegant in language as the
simplicity of unviolated analogy. Rules will, therefore, be observed, so
far as they are known and acknowledged: but, at the same time, the
desire of improvement having been once excited will not remain inactive;
and its efforts, unless assisted by knowledge, as much as they are
prompted by zeal, will not unfrequently be found pernicious; so that the
very persons whose intention it is to perfect the instrument of reason,
will deprave and disorder it unknowingly. At such a time, then, it
becomes peculiarly necessary that the analogy of language should be
fully examined and understood; that its rules should be carefully laid
down; and that it should be clearly known how much it contains, which
being already right should be defended from change and violation: how
much it has that demands amendment; and how much that, for fear of
greater inconveniencies, must, perhaps, be left unaltered, though

A distinguished authour in _The Mirror_[1188], a periodical paper,
published at Edinburgh, has imitated Johnson very closely. Thus, in
No. 16,--

'The effects of the return of spring have been frequently remarked as
well in relation to the human mind as to the animal and vegetable world.
The reviving power of this season has been traced from the fields to the
herds that inhabit them, and from the lower classes of beings up to man.
Gladness and joy are described as prevailing through universal Nature,
animating the low of the cattle, the carol of the birds, and the pipe of
the shepherd.'

The Reverend Dr. KNOX[1189], master of Tunbridge school, appears to have
the _imitari avco_[1190] of Johnson's style perpetually in his mind;
and to his assiduous, though not servile, study of it, we may partly
ascribe the extensive popularity of his writings[1191].

In his _Essays, Moral and Literary_, No. 3, we find the following

'The polish of external grace may indeed be deferred till the approach
of manhood. When solidity is obtained by pursuing the modes prescribed
by our fore-fathers, then may the file be used. The firm substance will
bear attrition, and the lustre then acquired will be durable.'

There is, however, one in No. 11, which is blown up into such tumidity,
as to be truly ludicrous. The writer means to tell us, that Members of
Parliament, who have run in debt by extravagance, will sell their votes
to avoid an arrest[1192], which he thus expresses:--

'They who build houses and collect costly pictures and furniture with
the money of an honest artisan or mechanick, will be very glad of
emancipation from the hands of a bailiff, by a sale of their senatorial

But I think the most perfect imitation of Johnson is a professed one,
entitled _A Criticism on Gray's Elegy in a Country Church-Yard_, said to
be written by Mr. Young, Professor of Greek, at Glasgow, and of which
let him have the credit, unless a better title can be shewn. It has not
only the peculiarities of Johnson's style, but that very species of
literary discussion and illustration for which he was eminent. Having
already quoted so much from others, I shall refer the curious to this
performance, with an assurance of much entertainment[1193].

Yet whatever merit there may be in any imitations of Johnson's style,
every good judge must see that they are obviously different from the
original; for all of them are either deficient in its force, or
overloaded with its peculiarities; and the powerful sentiment to which
it is suited is not to be found[1194].

Johnson's affection for his departed relations seemed to grow warmer as
he approached nearer to the time when he might hope to see them again.
It probably appeared to him that he should upbraid himself with unkind
inattention, were he to leave the world without having paid a tribute of
respect to their memory.



'I have enclosed the Epitaph[1196] for my Father, Mother, and Brother,
to be all engraved on the large size, and laid in the middle aisle in
St. Michael's church, which I request the clergyman and churchwardens
to permit.

'The first care must be to find the exact place of interment, that the
stone may protect the bodies[1197]. Then let the stone be deep, massy,
and hard; and do not let the difference of ten pounds, or more, defeat
our purpose.

'I have enclosed ten pounds, and Mrs. Porter will pay you ten more,
which I gave her for the same purpose. What more is wanted shall be
sent; and I beg that all possible haste may be made, for I wish to have
it done while I am yet alive. Let me know, dear Sir, that you
receive this.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'Dec. 2, 1784.'



'I am very ill, and desire your prayers. I have sent Mr. Green the
Epitaph, and a power to call on you for ten pounds.

'I laid this summer a stone over Tetty, in the chapel of Bromley, in
Kent[1198]. The inscription is in Latin, of which this is the English.
[Here a translation.]

'That this is done, I thought it fit that you should know. What care
will be taken of us, who can tell? May GOD pardon and bless us, for

'I am, &c.

'SAM. JOHNSON[1199],'

'Dec. 2, 1784.'

My readers are now, at last, to behold SAMUEL JOHNSON preparing himself
for that doom, from which the most exalted powers afford no exemption to
man[1200]. Death had always been to him an object of terrour; so that,
though by no means happy, he still clung to life with an eagerness at
which many have wondered. At any time when he was ill, he was very much
pleased to be told that he looked better. An ingenious member of the
_Eumelian Club_[1201], informs me, that upon one occasion when he said
to him that he saw health returning to his cheek, Johnson seized him by
the hand and exclaimed, 'Sir, you are one of the kindest friends I
ever had.'

His own state of his views of futurity will appear truly rational; and
may, perhaps, impress the unthinking with seriousness.

'You know, (says he,)[1202] I never thought confidence with respect to
futurity, any part of the character of a brave, a wise, or a good man.
Bravery has no place where it can avail nothing; wisdom impresses
strongly the consciousness of those faults, of which it is, perhaps,
itself an aggravation; and goodness, always wishing to be better, and
imputing every deficience to criminal negligence, and every fault to
voluntary corruption, never dares to suppose the condition of
forgiveness fulfilled, nor what is wanting in the crime supplied by

'This is the state of the best; but what must be the condition of him
whose heart will not suffer him to rank himself among the best, or among
the good? Such must be his dread of the approaching trial, as will leave
him little attention to the opinion of those whom he is leaving for
ever; and the serenity that is not felt, it can be no virtue to feign.'

His great fear of death, and the strange dark manner in which Sir John
Hawkins[1203] imparts the uneasiness which he expressed on account of
offences with which he charged himself, may give occasion to injurious
suspicions, as if there had been something of more than ordinary
criminality weighing upon his conscience. On that account, therefore, as
well as from the regard to truth which he inculcated[1204], I am to
mention, (with all possible respect and delicacy, however,) that his
conduct, after he came to London, and had associated with Savage and
others, was not so strictly virtuous, in one respect, as when he was a
younger man. It was well known, that his amorous inclinations were
uncommonly strong and impetuous. He owned to many of his friends, that
he used to take women of the town to taverns, and hear them relate their
history[1205]. In short, it must not be concealed, that, like many other
good and pious men, among whom we may place the Apostle Paul upon his
own authority, Johnson was not free from propensities which were ever
'warring against the law of his mind[1206],'--and that in his combats
with them, he was sometimes overcome[1207].

Here let the profane and licentious pause; let them not thoughtlessly
say that Johnson was an _hypocrite_, or that his _principles_ were not
firm, because his _practice_ was not uniformly conformable to what he

Let the question be considered independent of moral and religious
association; and no man will deny that thousands, in many instances, act
against conviction. Is a prodigal, for example, an _hypocrite_, when he
owns he is satisfied that his extravagance will bring him to ruin and
misery? We are _sure_ he _believes_ it; but immediate inclination,
strengthened by indulgence, prevails over that belief in influencing his
conduct. Why then shall credit be refused to the _sincerity_ of those
who acknowledge their persuasion of moral and religious duty, yet
sometimes fail of living as it requires? I heard Dr. Johnson once
observe, 'There is something noble in publishing truth, though it
condemns one's self[1208].' And one who said in his presence, 'he had
no notion of people being in earnest in their good professions, whose
practice was not suitable to them,' was thus reprimanded by him:--'Sir,
are you so grossly ignorant of human nature as not to know that a man
may be very sincere in good principles, without having good

But let no man encourage or soothe himself in 'presumptuous sin[1210],'
from knowing that Johnson was sometimes hurried into indulgences which
he thought criminal. I have exhibited this circumstance as a shade in so
great a character, both from my sacred love of truth, and to shew that
he was not so weakly scrupulous as he has been represented by those who
imagine that the sins, of which a deep sense was upon his mind, were
merely such little venial trifles as pouring milk into his tea on
Good-Friday. His understanding will be defended by my statement, if his
consistency of conduct be in some degree impaired. But what wise man
would, for momentary gratifications, deliberately subject himself to
suffer such uneasiness as we find was experienced by Johnson in
reviewing his conduct as compared with his notion of the ethicks of the
gospel? Let the following passages be kept in remembrance:--

'O, GOD, giver and preserver of all life, by whose power I was created,
and by whose providence I am sustained, look down upon me with
tenderness and mercy; grant that I may not have been created to be
finally destroyed; that I may not be preserved to add wickedness to
wickedness[1211].' 'O, LORD, let me not sink into total depravity; look
down upon me, and rescue me at last from the captivity of sin[1212].'
'Almighty and most merciful Father, who hast continued my life from year
to year, grant that by longer life I may become less desirous of sinful
pleasures, and more careful of eternal happiness[1213].' 'Let not my
years be multiplied to increase my guilt; but as my age advances, let me
become more pure in my thoughts, more regular in my desires, and more
obedient to thy laws[1214].' 'Forgive, O merciful LORD, whatever I have
done contrary to thy laws. Give me such a sense of my wickedness as may
produce true contrition and effectual repentance; so that when I shall
be called into another state, I may be received among the sinners to
whom whom sorrow and reformation have obtained pardon, for JESUS
CHRIST'S sake. Amen[1215].'

Such was the distress of mind, such the penitence of Johnson, in his
hours of privacy, and in his devout approaches to his Maker. His
_sincerity_, therefore, must appear to every candid mind unquestionable.

It is of essential consequence to keep in view, that there was in this
excellent man's conduct no false principle of _commutation_, no
_deliberate_ indulgence in sin, in consideration of a counter-balance of
duty. His offending, and his repenting, were distinct and
separate[1216]: and when we consider his almost unexampled attention to
truth, his inflexible integrity, his constant piety, who will dare to
'cast a stone at him[1217]?' Besides, let it never be forgotten, that he
cannot be charged with any offence indicating badness of _heart_, any
thing dishonest, base, or malignant; but that, on the contrary, he was
charitable in an extraordinary degree: so that even in one of his own
rigid judgements of himself, (Easter-eve, 1781,) while he says, 'I have
corrected no external habits;' he is obliged to own, 'I hope that since
my last communion I have advanced, by pious reflections, in my
submission to GOD, and my benevolence to man[1218].'

I am conscious that this is the most difficult and dangerous part of my
biographical work, and I cannot but be very anxious concerning it. I
trust that I have got through it, preserving at once my regard to
truth,--to my friend,--and to the interests of virtue and religion. Nor
can I apprehend that more harm can ensue from the knowledge of the
irregularity of Johnson, guarded as I have stated it, than from knowing
that Addison and Parnell were intemperate in the use of wine; which he
himself, in his _Lives_ of those celebrated writers and pious men, has
not forborne to record[1219].

It is not my intention to give a very minute detail of the particulars
of Johnson's remaining days[1220], of whom it was now evident, that the
crisis was fast approaching, when he must '_die like men, and fall like
one of the Princes_[1221].' Yet it will be instructive, as well as
gratifying to the curiosity of my readers, to record a few
circumstances, on the authenticity of which they may perfectly rely, as
I have been at the utmost pains to obtain an accurate account of his
last illness, from the best authority[1222].

Dr. Heberden[1223], Dr. Brocklesby, Dr. Warren[1224], and Dr. Butter,
physicians, generously attended him, without accepting any fees, as did
Mr. Cruikshank, surgeon; and all that could be done from professional
skill and ability, was tried, to prolong a life so truly valuable. He
himself, indeed, having, on account of his very bad constitution, been
perpetually applying himself to medical inquiries, united his own
efforts with those of the gentlemen who attended him; and imagining that
the dropsical collection of water which oppressed him might be drawn off
by making incisions in his body, he, with his usual resolute defiance of
pain, cut deep, when he thought that his surgeon had done it too

About eight or ten days before his death, when Dr. Brocklesby paid him
his morning visit, he seemed very low and desponding, and said, 'I have
been as a dying man all night.' He then emphatically broke out in the
words of Shakspeare,--

     'Can'st thou not minister to a mind diseas'd;
      Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow;
      Raze out the written troubles of the brain;
      And, with some sweet oblivious antidote,
      Cleanse the stuff'd bosom of that perilous stuff,
      Which weighs upon the heart?'

To which Dr. Brocklesby readily answered, from the same great poet:--

     '----------------therein the patient
      Must minister to himself[1226].'

Johnson expressed himself much satisfied with the application.

On another day after this, when talking on the subject of prayer, Dr.
Brocklesby repeated from Juvenal,--

     '_Orandum est, ut sit mens sana in corpore Sano_[1227],'

and so on to the end of the tenth satire; but in running it quickly
over, he happened, in the line,

     '_Qui spatium vitae; extremum inter munera ponat_,'

to pronounce _supremum_ for _extremum_; at which Johnson's critical ear
instantly took offence, and discoursing vehemently on the unmetrical
effect of such a lapse, he shewed himself as full as ever of the spirit
of the grammarian[1228].

Having no near relations[1229], it had been for some time Johnson's
intention to make a liberal provision for his faithful servant, Mr.
Francis Barber, whom he looked upon as particularly under his
protection, and whom he had all along treated truly as an humble friend.
Having asked Dr. Brocklesby what would be a proper annuity to a
favourite servant, and being answered that it must depend on the
circumstances of the master; and, that in the case of a nobleman, fifty
pounds a year was considered as an adequate reward for many years'
faithful service; 'Then, (said Johnson,) shall I be _nobilissimus_, for
I mean to leave Frank seventy pounds a year, and I desire you to tell
him so[1230].' It is strange, however, to think, that Johnson was not
free from that general weakness of being averse to execute a will, so
that he delayed it from time to time[1231]; and had it not been for Sir
John Hawkins's repeatedly urging it, I think it is probable that his
kind resolution would not have been fulfilled. After making one, which,
as Sir John Hawkins informs us, extended no further than the promised
annuity, Johnson's final disposition of his property was established by
a Will and Codicil, of which copies are subjoined[1232].

The consideration of numerous papers of which he was possessed, seems
to have struck Johnson's mind, with a sudden anxiety, and as they were
in great confusion, it is much to be lamented that he had not entrusted
some faithful and discreet person with the care and selection of them;
instead of which, he in a precipitate manner, burnt large masses of
them, with little regard, as I apprehend, to discrimination. Not that I
suppose we have thus been deprived of any compositions which he had ever
intended for the publick eye; but, from what escaped the flames, I judge
that many curious circumstances relating both to himself and other
literary characters have perished[1233].

Two very valuable articles, I am sure, we have lost, which were two
quarto volumes, containing a full, fair, and most particular account of
his own life, from his earliest recollection. I owned to him, that
having accidentally seen them, I had read a great deal in them; and
apologizing for the liberty I had taken, asked him if I could help
it[1234]. He placidly answered, 'Why, Sir, I do not think you could
have helped it.' I said that I had, for once in my life, felt half an
inclination to commit theft. It had come into my mind to carry off those
two volumes, and never see him more. Upon my inquiring how this would
have affected him, 'Sir, (said he,) I believe I should have gone

During his last illness, Johnson experienced the steady and kind
attachment of his numerous friends. Mr. Hoole has drawn up a narrative
of what passed in the visits which he paid him during that time, from
the both of November to the 13th of December, the day of his death,
inclusive, and has favoured me with a perusal of it, with permission to
make extracts, which I have done. Nobody was more attentive to him than
Mr. Langton, to whom he tenderly said, _Te teneam moriens deficiente
manu_[1237]. And I think it highly to the honour of Mr. Windham, that
his important occupations as an active statesman[1238] did not prevent
him from paying assiduous respect to the dying Sage whom he revered. Mr.
Langton informs me, that, 'one day he found Mr. Burke and four or five
more friends sitting with Johnson. Mr. Burke said to him, "I am afraid,
Sir, such a number of us may be oppressive to you." "No, Sir, (said
Johnson,) it is not so; and I must be in a wretched state, indeed, when
your company would not be a delight to me." Mr. Burke, in a tremulous
voice, expressive of being very tenderly affected, replied, "My dear
Sir, you have always been too good to me." Immediately afterwards he
went away. This was the last circumstance in the acquaintance of these
two eminent men[1239].'

The following particulars of his conversation within a few days of his
death, I give on the authority of Mr. John Nichols[1240]:--

'He said, that the Parliamentary Debates were the only part of his
writings which then gave him any compunction[1241]: but that at the time
he wrote them, he had no conception he was imposing upon the world,
though they were frequently written from very slender materials, and
often from none at all,--the mere coinage of his own imagination. He
never wrote any part of his works with equal velocity. Three columns of
the _Magazine_, in an hour, was no uncommon effort, which was faster
than most persons could have transcribed that quantity.

'Of his friend Cave, he always spoke with great affection. "Yet (said
he,) Cave, (who never looked out of his window, but with a view to the
_Gentleman's Magazine_,) was a penurious pay-master; he would contract
for lines by the hundred, and expect the long hundred; but he was a good
man, and always delighted to have his friends at his table."

'When talking of a regular edition of his own works, he said, "that he
had power, [from the booksellers,] to print such an edition, if his
health admitted it; but had no power to assign over any edition, unless
he could add notes, and so alter them as to make them new works; which
his state of health forbade him to think of. I may possibly live, (said
he,) or rather breath, three days, or perhaps three weeks; but find
myself daily and gradually weaker."

'He said at another time, three or four days only before his death,
speaking of the little fear he had of undergoing a chirurgical
operation, "I would give one of these legs for a year more of life, I
mean of comfortable life, not such as that which I now suffer;"--and
lamented much his inability to read during his hours of restlessness; "I
used formerly, (he added,) when sleepless in bed, _to read like a

'Whilst confined by his last illness, it was his regular practice to
have the church-service read to him, by some attentive and friendly
Divine. The Rev. Mr. Hoole performed this kind office in my presence for
the last time, when, by his own desire, no more than the Litany was
read; in which his responses were in the deep and sonorous voice which
Mr. Boswell has occasionally noticed, and with the most profound
devotion that can be imagined. His hearing not being quite perfect, he
more than once interrupted Mr. Hoole, with "Louder, my dear Sir, louder,
I entreat you, or you pray in vain[1243]!"--and, when the service was
ended, he, with great earnestness, turned round to an excellent lady who
was present, saying, "I thank you, Madam, very heartily, for your
kindness in joining me in this solemn exercise. Live well, I conjure
you; and you will not feel the compunction at the last, which I now
feel[1244]." So truly humble were the thoughts which this great and good
man entertained of his own approaches to religious perfection[1245].

'He was earnestly invited to publish a volume of _Devotional
Exercises_[1246]; but this, (though he listened to the proposal with
much complacency, and a large sum of money was offered for it,) he
declined, from motives of the sincerest modesty.

'He seriously entertained the thought of translating _Thuanus_[1247]. He
often talked to me on the subject; and once, in particular, when I was
rather wishing that he would favour the world, and gratify his
sovereign, by a Life of Spenser[1248], (which he said that he would
readily have done, had he been able to obtain any new materials for the
purpose,) he added, "I have been thinking again, Sir, of _Thuanus_: it
would not be the laborious task which you have supposed it. I should
have no trouble but that of dictation, which would be performed as
speedily as an amanuensis could write."

It is to the mutual credit of Johnson and Divines of different
communions, that although he was a steady Church-of-England man, there
was, nevertheless, much agreeable intercourse between him and them. Let
me particularly name the late Mr. La Trobe, and Mr. Hutton[1249], of the
Moravian profession. His intimacy with the English Benedictines, at
Paris, has been mentioned[1250]; and as an additional proof of the
charity in which he lived with good men of the Romish Church, I am happy
in this opportunity of recording his friendship with the Reverend Thomas
Hussey[1251], D.D. His Catholick Majesty's Chaplain of Embassy at the
Court of London, that very respectable man, eminent not only for his
powerful eloquence as a preacher, but for his various abilities and
acquisitions. Nay, though Johnson loved a Presbyterian the least of all,
this did not prevent his having a long and uninterrupted social
connection with the Reverend Dr. James Fordyce, who, since his death,
hath gratefully celebrated him in a warm strain of devotional

Amidst the melancholy clouds which hung over the dying Johnson, his
characteristical manner shewed itself on different occasions.

When Dr. Warren, in the usual style, hoped that he was better; his
answer was, 'No, Sir; you cannot conceive with what acceleration I
advance towards death.'

A man whom he had never seen before was employed one night to sit up
with him[1253]. Being asked next morning how he liked his attendant, his
answer was, 'Not at all, Sir: the fellow's an ideot; he is as aukward as
a turn-spit when first put into the wheel, and as sleepy as a dormouse.'

Mr. Windham having placed a pillow conveniently to support him, he
thanked him for his kindness, and said, 'That will do,--all that a
pillow can do.'

He repeated[1254] with great spirit a poem, consisting of several
stanzas, in four lines, in alternate rhyme, which he said he had
composed some years before, on occasion of a rich, extravagant young
gentleman's coming of age; saying he had never repeated it but once
since he composed it, and had given but one copy of it. That copy was
given to Mrs. Thrale, now Piozzi, who has published it in a Book which
she entitles _British Synonymy_[1255], but which is truly a collection
of entertaining remarks and stories, no matter whether accurate or not.
Being a piece of exquisite satire, conveyed in a strain of pointed
vivacity and humour, and in a manner of which no other instance is to be
found in Johnson's writings, I shall here insert it[1256]:--

     Long-expected one-and-twenty,
       Ling'ring year, at length is flown;
     Pride and pleasure, pomp and plenty,
       Great --- ----[1257], are now your own.

     Loosen'd from the Minor's tether,
       Free to mortgage or to sell,
     Wild as wind, and light as feather,
       Bid the sons of thrift farewell.

     Call the Betseys, Kates, and Jennies,
       All the names that banish care;
     Lavish of your grandsire's guineas,
       Shew the spirit of an heir.

     All that prey on vice or folly
       Joy to see their quarry fly;
     There the gamester, light and jolly,
       There the lender, grave and sly.

     Wealth, my lad, was made to wander,
       Let it wander as it will;
     Call the jockey, call the pander,
       Bid them come and take their fill.

     When the bonny blade carouses,
       Pockets full, and spirits high--
     What are acres? what are houses?
       Only dirt, or wet or dry.

     Should the guardian friend or mother
       Tell the woes of wilful waste;
     Scorn their counsel, scorn their pother,--
       You can hang or drown at last.

As he opened a note which his servant brought to him, he said, 'An odd
thought strikes me: we shall receive no letters in the grave[1258].'

He requested three things of Sir Joshua Reynolds:--To forgive him thirty
pounds which he had borrowed of him; to read the Bible; and never to
use his pencil on a Sunday[1259]. Sir Joshua readily acquiesced[1260].

Indeed he shewed the greatest anxiety for the religious improvement of
his friends, to whom he discoursed of its infinite consequence. He
begged of Mr. Hoole to think of what he had said, and to commit it to
writing: and, upon being afterwards assured that this was done, pressed
his hands, and in an earnest tone thanked him. Dr. Brocklesby having
attended him with the utmost assiduity and kindness as his physician and
friend, he was peculiarly desirous that this gentleman should not
entertain any loose speculative notions, but be confirmed in the truths
of Christianity, and insisted on his writing down in his presence, as
nearly as he could collect it, the import of what passed on the subject:
and Dr. Brocklesby having complied with the request, he made him sign
the paper, and urged him to keep it in his own custody as long as he

Johnson, with that native fortitude, which, amidst all his bodily
distress and mental sufferings, never forsook him, asked Dr. Brocklesby,
as a man in whom he had confidence, to tell him plainly whether he could
recover. 'Give me (said he) a direct answer.' The Doctor having first
asked him if he could bear the whole truth, which way soever it might
lead, and being answered that he could, declared that, in his opinion,
he could not recover without a miracle. 'Then, (said Johnson,) I will
take no more physick, not even my opiates; for I have prayed that I may
render up my soul to GOD unclouded.' In this resolution he persevered,
and, at the same time, used only the weakest kinds of sustenance. Being
pressed by Mr. Windham to take somewhat more generous nourishment, lest
too low a diet should have the very effect which he dreaded, by
debilitating his mind, he said, 'I will take any thing but inebriating

The Reverend Mr. Strahan, who was the son of his friend, and had been
always one of his great favourites, had, during his last illness, the
satisfaction of contributing to soothe and comfort him. That gentleman's
house, at Islington, of which he is Vicar, afforded Johnson,
occasionally and easily, an agreeable change of place and fresh air; and
he attended also upon him in town in the discharge of the sacred offices
of his profession.

Mr. Strahan has given me the agreeable assurance, that, after being in
much agitation, Johnson became quite composed, and continued so till his

Dr. Brocklesby, who will not be suspected of fanaticism, obliged me with
the following accounts:--

'For some time before his death, all his fears were calmed and absorbed
by the prevalence of his faith, and his trust in the merits and
_propitiation_ of JESUS CHRIST.

'He talked often to me about the necessity of faith in the _sacrifice_
of Jesus, as necessary beyond all good works whatever, for the salvation
of mankind.

'He pressed me to study Dr. Clarke and to read his Sermons. I asked him
why he pressed Dr. Clarke, an Arian[1264]. "Because, (said he,) he is
fullest on the _propitiatory sacrifice_."'

Johnson having thus in his mind the true Christian scheme, at once
rational and consolatory, uniting justice and mercy in the DIVINITY,
with the improvement of human nature, previous to his receiving the Holy
Sacrament in his apartment, composed and fervently uttered this

'Almighty and most merciful Father, I am now as to human eyes, it
seems, about to commemorate, for the last time, the death of thy Son
JESUS CHRIST, our Saviour and Redeemer. Grant, O LORD, that my whole
hope and confidence may be in his merits, and thy mercy; enforce and
accept my imperfect repentance; make this commemoration available to the
confirmation of my faith, the establishment of my hope, and the
enlargement of my charity; and make the death of thy Son JESUS CHRIST
effectual to my redemption. Have mercy upon me, and pardon the multitude
of my offences. Bless my friends; have mercy upon all men. Support me,
by thy Holy Spirit, in the days of weakness, and at the hour of death;
and receive me, at my death, to everlasting happiness, for the sake of

Having, as has been already mentioned, made his will on the 8th and 9th
of December, and settled all his worldly affairs, he languished till
Monday, the 13th of that month, when he expired, about seven o'clock in
the evening, with so little apparent pain that his attendants hardly
perceived when his dissolution took place.

Of his last moments, my brother, Thomas David[1266], has furnished me
with the following particulars:--

'The Doctor, from the time that he was certain his death was near,
appeared to be perfectly resigned[1267], was seldom or never fretful or
out of temper, and often said to his faithful servant, who gave me this
account, "Attend, Francis, to the salvation of your soul, which is the
object of greatest importance:" he also explained to him passages in the
scripture, and seemed to have pleasure in talking upon religious

'On Monday, the 13th of December, the day on which he died, a Miss
Morris[1268], daughter to a particular friend of his, called, and said
to Francis, that she begged to be permitted to see the Doctor, that she
might earnestly request him to give her his blessing. Francis went into
his room, followed by the young lady, and delivered the message. The
Doctor turned himself in the bed, and said, "GOD bless you, my dear!"
These were the last words he spoke. His difficulty of breathing
increased till about seven o'clock in the evening, when Mr. Barber and
Mrs. Desmoulins, who were sitting in the room, observing that the noise
he made in breathing had ceased, went to the bed, and found he was

About two days after his death, the following very agreeable account was
communicated to Mr. Malone, in a letter by the Honourable John Byng, to
whom I am much obliged for granting me permission to introduce it in
my work.


'Since I saw you, I have had a long conversation with Cawston[1270], who
sat up with Dr. Johnson, from nine o'clock, on Sunday evening, till ten
o'clock, on Monday morning. And, from what I can gather from him, it
should seem, that Dr. Johnson was perfectly composed, steady in hope,
and resigned to death. At the interval of each hour, they assisted him
to sit up in his bed, and move his legs, which were in much pain; when
he regularly addressed himself to fervent prayer; and though, sometimes,
his voice failed him, his senses never did, during that time. The only
sustenance he received, was cyder and water. He said his mind was
prepared, and the time to his dissolution seemed long. At six in the
morning, he enquired the hour, and, on being informed, said that all
went on regularly, and he felt he had but a few hours to live.

'At ten o'clock in the morning, he parted from Cawston, saying, "You
should not detain Mr. Windham's servant:--I thank you; bear my
remembrance to your master." Cawston says, that no man could appear more
collected, more devout, or less terrified at the thoughts of the
approaching minute.

'This account, which is so much more agreeable than, and somewhat
different from, yours, has given us the satisfaction of thinking that
that great man died as he lived, full of resignation, strengthened in
faith, and joyful in hope.'

A few days before his death, he had asked Sir John Hawkins, as one of
his executors, where he should be buried; and on being answered,
'Doubtless, in Westminster-Abbey,' seemed to feel a satisfaction, very
natural to a Poet; and indeed in my opinion very natural to every man of
any imagination, who has no family sepulchre in which he can be laid
with his fathers. Accordingly, upon Monday, December 20, his remains
were deposited in that noble and renowned edifice; and over his grave
was placed a large blue flag-stone, with this inscription:--

      _Obiit_ XIII _die Decembris_,
      _Anno Domini_
      M. DCC. LXXXIV.
      Aetatis suoe_ LXXV.'

His funeral was attended by a respectable number of his friends,
particularly such of the members of the LITERARY CLUB as were then in
town; and was also honoured with the presence of several of the Reverend
Chapter of Westminster. Mr. Burke, Sir Joseph Banks, Mr. Windham, Mr.
Langton, Sir Charles Bunbury, and Mr. Colman, bore his pall[1271]. His
schoolfellow, Dr. Taylor, performed the mournful office of reading the
burial service[1272].

I trust, I shall not be accused of affectation, when I declare, that I
find myself unable to express all that I felt upon the loss of such a
'Guide[1273], Philosopher, and Friend[1274].' I shall, therefore, not
say one word of my own, but adopt those of an eminent friend[1275],
which he uttered with an abrupt felicity, superior to all studied
compositions:--'He has made a chasm, which not only nothing can fill up,
but which nothing has a tendency to fill up. Johnson is dead. Let us go
to the next best:--there is nobody; no man can be said to put you in
mind of Johnson[1276].'

As Johnson had abundant homage paid to him during his life[1277], so no
writer in this nation ever had such an accumulation of literary honours
after his death. A sermon upon that event was preached in St. Mary's
Church, Oxford, before the University, by the Reverend Mr. Agutter, of
Magdalen College[1278]. The _Lives_, the _Memoirs_, the _Essays_, both
in prose and verse, which have been published concerning him, would make
many volumes. The numerous attacks too upon him, I consider as part of
his consequence, upon the principle which he himself so well knew and
asserted[1279]. Many who trembled at his presence, were forward in
assault, when they no longer apprehended danger. When one of his little
pragmatical foes was invidiously snarling at his fame, at Sir Joshua
Reynolds's table, the Reverend Dr. Parr exclaimed, with his usual bold
animation, 'Ay, now that the old lion is dead, every ass thinks he may
kick at him.'

A monument for him, in Westminster Abbey, was resolved upon soon after
his death, and was supported by a most respectable contribution[1280];
but the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's having come to a resolution of
admitting monuments there, upon a liberal and magnificent plan, that
Cathedral was afterwards fixed on, as the place in which a cenotaph
should be erected to his memory[1281]: and in the cathedral of his
native city of Lichfield, a smaller one is to be erected. To compose his
epitaph, could not but excite the warmest competition of genius[1282].
If _laudari à laudato viro_ be praise which is highly estimable[1283],
I should not forgive myself were I to omit the following sepulchral
verses on the authour of THE ENGLISH DICTIONARY, written by the Right
Honourable Henry Flood[1284]:--

     'No need of Latin or of Greek to grace
        Our JOHNSON'S memory, or inscribe his grave;
      His native language claims this mournful space,
        To pay the Immortality he gave.'

The character of SAMUEL JOHNSON has, I trust, been so developed in the
course of this work, that they who have honoured it with a perusal, may
be considered as well acquainted with him. As, however, it may be
expected that I should collect into one view the capital and
distinguishing features of this extraordinary man, I shall endeavour to
acquit myself of that part of my biographical undertaking[1285], however
difficult it may be to do that which many of my readers will do better
for themselves.

His figure was large and well formed, and his countenance of the cast of
an ancient statue; yet his appearance was rendered strange and somewhat
uncouth, by convulsive cramps, by the scars of that distemper which it
was once imagined the royal touch could cure, and by a slovenly mode of
dress. He had the use only of one eye; yet so much does mind govern and
even supply the deficiency of organs, that his visual perceptions, as
far as they extended, were uncommonly quick and accurate[1286]. So
morbid was his temperament, that he never knew the natural joy of a free
and vigorous use of his limbs: when he walked, it was like the
struggling gait of one in fetters; when he rode, he had no command or
direction of his horse, but was carried as if in a balloon[1287]. That
with his constitution and habits of life he should have lived
seventy-five years, is a proof that an inherent _vivida vis_[1288] is a
powerful preservative of the human frame.

Man is, in general, made up of contradictory qualities; and these will
ever shew themselves in strange succession, where a consistency in
appearance at least, if not in reality, has not been attained by long
habits of philosophical discipline. In proportion to the native vigour
of the mind, the contradictory qualities will be the more prominent, and
more difficult to be adjusted; and, therefore, we are not to wonder,
that Johnson exhibited an eminent example of this remark which I have
made upon human nature. At different times, he seemed a different man,
in some respects; not, however, in any great or essential article, upon
which he had fully employed his mind, and settled certain principles of
duty, but only in his manners, and in the display of argument and fancy
in his talk. He was prone to superstition, but not to credulity. Though
his imagination might incline him to a belief of the marvellous and the
mysterious, his vigorous reason examined the evidence with
jealousy[1289]. He was a sincere and zealous Christian, of high
Church-of-England and monarchical principles, which he would not tamely
suffer to be questioned; and had, perhaps, at an early period, narrowed
his mind somewhat too much, both as to religion and politicks. His being
impressed with the danger of extreme latitude in either, though he was
of a very independent spirit, occasioned his appearing somewhat
unfavourable to the prevalence of that noble freedom of sentiment which
is the best possession of man. Nor can it be denied, that he had many
prejudices; which, however, frequently suggested many of his pointed
sayings, that rather shew a playfulness of fancy than any settled
malignity. He was steady and inflexible in maintaining the obligations
of religion and morality; both from a regard for the order of society,
and from a veneration for the GREAT SOURCE of all order; correct, nay
stern in his taste; hard to please, and easily offended[1290]; impetuous
and irritable in his temper, but of a most humane and benevolent
heart[1291], which shewed itself not only in a most liberal charity, as
far as his circumstances would allow, but in a thousand instances of
active benevolence. He was afflicted with a bodily disease, which made
him often restless and fretful; and with a constitutional melancholy,
the clouds of which darkened the brightness of his fancy, and gave a
gloomy cast to his whole course of thinking: we, therefore, ought not to
wonder at his sallies of impatience and passion at any time; especially
when provoked by obtrusive ignorance, or presuming petulance; and
allowance must be made for his uttering hasty and satirical sallies even
against his best friends. And, surely, when it is considered, that,
'amidst sickness and sorrow[1292],'he exerted his faculties in so many
works for the benefit of mankind, and particularly that he atchieved the
great and admirable DICTIONARY of our language, we must be astonished at
his resolution. The solemn text, 'of him to whom much is given, much
will be required[1293],' seems to have been ever present to his mind, in
a rigorous sense, and to have made him dissatisfied with his labours and
acts of goodness, however comparatively great; so that the unavoidable
consciousness of his superiority was, in that respect, a cause of
disquiet. He suffered so much from this, and from the gloom which
perpetually haunted him, and made solitude frightful, that it may be
said of him, 'If in this life only he had hope, he was of all men most
miserable[1294].' He loved praise, when it was brought to him; but was
too proud to seek for it. He was somewhat susceptible of flattery. As he
was general and unconfined in his studies, he cannot be considered as
master of any one particular science; but he had accumulated a vast and
various collection of learning and knowledge, which was so arranged in
his mind, as to be ever in readiness to be brought forth. But his
superiority over other learned men consisted chiefly in what may be
called the art of thinking, the art of using his mind; a certain
continual power of seizing the useful substance of all that he knew, and
exhibiting it in a clear and forcible manner; so that knowledge, which
we often see to be no better than lumber in men of dull understanding,
was, in him, true, evident, and actual wisdom. His moral precepts are
practical; for they are drawn from an intimate acquaintance with human
nature. His maxims carry conviction; for they are founded on the basis
of common sense, and a very attentive and minute survey of real life.
His mind was so full of imagery, that he might have been perpetually a
poet; yet it is remarkable, that, however rich his prose is in this
respect, his poetical pieces, in general, have not much of that
splendour, but are rather distinguished by strong sentiment and acute
observation, conveyed in harmonious and energetick verse, particularly
in heroick couplets. Though usually grave, and even aweful, in his
deportment, he possessed uncommon and peculiar powers of wit and humour;
he frequently indulged himself in colloquial pleasantry; and the
heartiest merriment[1295] was often enjoyed in his company; with this
great advantage, that as it was entirely free from any poisonous
tincture of vice or impiety, it was salutary to those who shared
in it. He had accustomed himself to such accuracy in his common
conversation[1296], that he at all times expressed his thoughts with
great force, and an elegant choice of language, the effect of which was
aided by his having a loud voice, and a slow deliberate utterance[1297].
In him were united a most logical head with a most fertile imagination,
which gave him an extraordinary advantage in arguing: for he could
reason close or wide, as he saw best for the moment. Exulting in his
intellectual strength and dexterity, he could, when he pleased, be the
greatest sophist that ever contended in the lists of declamation; and,
from a spirit of contradiction and a delight in shewing his powers, he
would often maintain the wrong side with equal warmth and ingenuity; so
that, when there was an audience, his real opinions could seldom be
gathered from his talk[1298]; though when he was in company with a
single friend, he would discuss a subject with genuine fairness: but he
was too conscientious to make errour permanent and pernicious, by
deliberately writing it; and, in all his numerous works, he earnestly
inculcated what appeared to him to be the truth; his piety being
constant, and the ruling principle of all his conduct[1299].

Such was SAMUEL JOHNSON, a man whose talents, acquirements, and
virtues, were so extraordinary, that the more his character is
considered, the more he will be regarded by the present age, and by
posterity, with admiration and reverence[1300].


(_Page_ 115, _note_ 4.)

There are at least three accounts of this altercation and three versions
of the lines. Two of these versions nearly agree. The earliest is found
in a letter by Richard Burke, senior, dated Jan. 6, 1773 (_Burke
Corres_. i. 403); the second in _The Annual Register_ for 1776, p. 223;
and the third in Miss Reynolds's _Recollections_ (Croker's _Boswell_,
8vo. p. 833). R. Burke places the scene in Reynolds's house. Whether he
himself was present is not clear. 'The dean,' he says, 'asserted that
after forty-five a man did not improve. "I differ with you, Sir,"
answered Johnson; "a man may improve, and you yourself have great room
for improvement." The dean was confounded, and for the instant silent.
Recovering, he said, "On recollection I see no cause to alter my
opinion, except I was to call it improvement for a man to grow (which I
allow he may) positive, rude, and insolent, and save arguments by
brutality."' Neither the _Annual Register_ nor Miss Reynolds reports the
Dean's speech. But she says that 'soon after the ladies withdrew, Dr.
Johnson followed them, and sitting down by the lady of the house [that
is by herself, if they were at Sir Joshua's] he said, "I am very sorry
for having spoken so rudely to the Dean." "You very well may, Sir."
"Yes," he said, "it was highly improper to speak in that style to a
minister of the gospel, and I am the more hurt on reflecting with what
mild dignity he received it."' If Johnson really spoke of the Dean's
_mild dignity_, it is clear that Richard Burke's account is wrong. But
it was written just after the scene, and Boswell says there was 'a
pretty smart altercation.' Miss Reynolds continues:--'When the Dean came
up into the drawing-room, Dr. Johnson immediately rose from his seat,
and made him sit on the sofa by him, and with such a beseeching look for
pardon and with such fond gestures--literally smoothing down his arms
and his knees,' &c. The _Annual Register_ says that Barnard the next day
sent the verses addressed to 'Sir Joshua Reynolds & Co.' On the next
page I give Richard Burke's version of the lines, and show the various

MISS REYNOLD'S       RICHARD BURKE'S VERSION.          _Annual Register_
                    I lately thought no man alive
                    Could e'er improve past forty-five,
                      And ventured to assert it;
                    The observation was not new,
                    But seem'd to me so just and true,
                      That none could controvert it.

                    'No, Sir,' says Johnson, ''tis not so;
'Tis                _That's_ your mistake, and I can show
                      An instance, if you doubt it;
You who perhaps are _You, Sir, who are near_ forty-eight,
still               May _much_ improve, 'tis not too late;
                      I wish you'd set about it.'

                    Encouraged thus to mend my faults,
                    I turn'd his counsel in my thoughts,
could                 Which way I _should_ apply it:
Genius I knew was   _Learning and wit seem'd_ past my reach,
what none can       For who can learn _where none will_ teach? when
                      And wit--I could not buy it.

                    Then come, my friends, and try your skill,
may                 You _can improve me, if you will;          inform
                      (My books are at a distance).
                    With you I'll live and learn; and then
                    Instead of books I shall read men,
                      _So_ lend me your assistance.            To

                    Dear Knight of Plympton[1301], teach me how
unclouded           To suffer with _unruffled_ brow,
as                    And smile serene _like_ thine,
and                 The jest uncouth _or_ truth severe,
Like thee to turn   _To such apply_ my deafest ear,            To such
                      And calmly drink my wine.                I'll turn

                    Thou say'st, not only skill is gain'd,
attained            But genius too may be _obtain'd_,          attained
invitation            By studious _imitation_;
                    Thy temper mild, thy genius fine,
study               I'll _copy_ till I make _them_ mine,       thee
meditation            By constant _application_.

                    Thy art of pleasing teach me, Garrick,
reverest (_sic_)    Thou who _reversest_ odes Pindarick[1302],
                      A second time read o'er;
                    Oh! could we read thee backwards too,
Past                _Last_ thirty years thou shouldst review,
                      And charm us thirty more.

                    If I have thoughts and can't express 'em,
                    Gibbon shall teach me how to dress 'em
                      In terms select and terse;
                    Jones teach me modesty--and Greek;
                    Smith how to think; _Burke_ how to speak,   Burk
                      And Beauclerk to converse.

                    Let Johnson teach me how to place
                    In fairest light each borrowed grace,
                      From him I'll learn to write;
free and easy       Copy his _clear and easy_ style,            clear
                    And from the roughness of his file,         familiar
like                  Grow _as_ himself--polite.'               like

Horace Walpole, on Dec. 27, 1775, speaks of these verses as if they were
fresh. 'They are an answer,' he writes, 'to a gross brutality of Dr.
Johnson, to which a properer answer would have been to fling a glass of
wine in his face. I have no patience with an unfortunate monster
trusting to his helpless deformity for indemnity for any impertinence
that his arrogance suggests, and who thinks that what he has read is an
excuse for everything he says.' Horace Walpole's _Letters,_ vi. 302. It
is strange that Walpole should be so utterly ignorant of Johnson's
courage and bodily strength. The date of Walpole's letter makes me
suspect that Richard Burke dated his Jan. 6, 1775 (he should have
written 1776), and that the blunder of a copyist has changed 1775
into 1773.


(_Page_ 238.)

Had Boswell continued the quotation from Priestley's _Illustrations of
Philosophical Necessity_ he would have shown that though Priestley could
not _hate_ the rioters, he could very easily _prosecute_ them.
He says:--

'If as a Necessarian I cease to _blame_ men for their vices in the
ultimate sense of the word, though, in the common and proper sense of
it, I continue to do as much as other persons (for how necessarily
soever they act, they are influenced by a base and mischievous
disposition of mind, against which I must guard myself and others in
proportion as I love myself and others),' &c. Priestley's
_Works_, iii. 508.

Of his interview with Johnson, Priestley, in his _Appeal to the Public_,
part ii, published in 1792 (_Works_, xix. 502), thus writes, answering
'the impudent falsehood that when I was at Oxford Dr. Johnson left a
company on my being introduced to it':--

'In fact we never were at Oxford at the same time, and the only
interview I ever had with him was at Mr. Paradise's, where we dined
together at his own request. He was particularly civil to me, and
promised to call upon me the next time he should go through Birmingham.
He behaved with the same civility to Dr. Price, when they supped
together at Dr. Adams's at Oxford. Several circumstances show that Dr.
Johnson had not so much of bigotry at the decline of life as had
distinguished him before, on which account it is well known to all our
common acquaintance, that I declined all their pressing solicitations to
be introduced to him.'

Priestley expresses himself ill, but his meaning can be made out. Parr
answered Boswell in the March number of the _Gent. Mag._ for 1795, p.
179. But the evidence that he brings is rendered needless by Priestley's
positive statement. May peace henceforth fall on 'Priestley's injured
name.' (Mrs. Barbauld's _Poems_, ii. 243.)

When Boswell asserts that Johnson 'was particularly resolute in not
giving countenance to men whose writings he considered as pernicious to
society,' he forgets that that very summer of 1783 he had been willing
to dine at Wilkes's house (_ante_, p. 224, note 2).

Dr. Franklin (_Memoirs_, ed. 1833, iii. 157) wrote to Dr. Price in
1784:--'It is said that scarce anybody but yourself and Dr. Priestley
possesses the art of knowing how to differ decently.' Gibbon (_Misc.
Works_, i. 304), describing in 1789 the honestest members of the French
Assembly, calls them 'a set of wild visionaries, like our Dr. Price, who
gravely debate, and dream about the establishment of a pure and perfect
democracy of five and twenty millions, the virtues of the golden age,
and the primitive rights and equality of mankind.' Admiration of Price
made Samuel Rogers, when a boy, wish to be a preacher. 'I thought there
was nothing on earth so _grand_ as to figure in a pulpit. Dr. Price
lived much in the society of Lord Lansdowne [Earl of Shelburne] and
other people of rank; and his manners were extremely polished. In the
pulpit he was great indeed.' Rogers's _Table Talk_, p. 3.

The full title of the tract mentioned by Boswell is, _A small
Whole-Length of Dr. Priestley from his Printed Works_. It was published
in 1792, and is a very poor piece of writing.

Johnson had refused to meet the Abbé Raynal, the author of the _Histoire
Philosophique et Politique du Commerce des Deux Indes_, when he was
over in England in 1777. Mrs. Chapone, writing to Mrs. Carter on June 15
of that year, says:--

'I suppose you have heard a great deal of the Abbé Raynal, who is in
London. I fancy you would have served him as Dr. Johnson did, to whom
when Mrs. Vesey introduced him, he turned from him, and said he had read
his book, and would have nothing to say to him.' Mrs. Chapone's
_Posthumous Works_, i. 172.

See Walpole's _Letters_, v. 421, and vi. 444. His book was burnt by the
common hangman in Paris. Carlyle's _French Revolution_, ed. 1857, i. 45.


(_Page 253_.)

Hawkins gives the two following notes:--


'As Mr. Ryland was talking with me of old friends and past times, we
warmed ourselves into a wish, that all who remained of the club should
meet and dine at the house which once was Horseman's, in Ivy-lane. I
have undertaken to solicit you, and therefore desire you to tell on what
day next week you can conveniently meet your old friends.

'I am, Sir,

'Your most humble servant,


'Bolt-court, Nov. 22, 1783.'


'In perambulating Ivy-lane, Mr. Ryland found neither our landlord
Horseman, nor his successor. The old house is shut up, and he liked not
the appearance of any near it; he therefore bespoke our dinner at the
Queen's Arms, in St. Paul's Church-yard, where, at half an hour after
three, your company will be desired to-day by those who remain of our
former society.

'Your humble servant,


'Dec. 3.'

Four met--Johnson, Hawkins, Ryland, and Payne (_ante_, i. 243).

'We dined,' Hawkins continues, 'and in the evening regaled with coffee.
At ten we broke up, much to the regret of Johnson, who proposed
staying; but finding us inclined to separate, he left us with a sigh
that seemed to come from his heart, lamenting that he was retiring to
solitude and cheerless meditation.' Hawkins's _Johnson_, p. 562.

Hawkins is mistaken in saying that they had a second meeting at a tavern
at the end of a month; for Johnson, on March 10, 1784, wrote:--

'I have been confined from the fourteenth of December, and know not when
I shall get out.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 351.

He thus describes these meetings:--

'Dec. 13. I dined about a fortnight ago with three old friends; we had
not met together for thirty years, and one of us thought the other grown
very old. In the thirty years two of our set have died; our meeting may
be supposed to be somewhat tender.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 339.

'Jan. 12, 1784. I had the same old friends to dine with me on Wednesday,
and may say that since I lost sight of you I have had one pleasant day.'
Ib. p. 346.

'April 15, 1784. Yesterday I had the pleasure of giving another dinner
to the remainder of the old club. We used to meet weekly, about the year
fifty, and we were as cheerful as in former times; only I could not make
quite so much noise, for since the paralytick affliction my voice is
sometimes weak.' Ib. p. 361.

'April 19, 1784. The people whom I mentioned in my letter are the
remnant of a little club that used to meet in Ivy-lane about three and
thirty years ago, out of which we have lost Hawkesworth and Dyer; the
rest are yet on this side the grave. Our meetings now are serious, and I
think on all parts tender.' Ib. 363.

See _ante_, i. 191, note 5.


(_Page 254_.)

It is likely that Sir Joshua Reynolds refused to join the Essex Head
Club because he did not wish to meet Barry. Not long before this time he
had censured Barry's delay in entering upon his duties as Professor
of painting.

'Barry answered:--"If I had no more to do in the composition of my
lectures than to produce such poor flimsy stuff as your discourses, I
should soon have done my work, and be prepared to read." It is said this
speech was delivered with his fist clenched, in a menacing posture.'
(Northcote's _Life of Reynolds_, ii. 146.)

The Hon. Daines Barrington was the author of an _Essay on the Migration
of Birds_ (_ante_, ii. 248) and of _Observations on the Statutes_
(_ante_, iii. 314). Horace Walpole wrote on Nov. 24, 1780 (_Letters_,
vii. 464):--

'I am sorry for the Dean of Exeter; if he dies I conclude the leaden
mace of the Antiquarian Society will be given to Judge Barrington.' (He
was 'second Justice of Chester.')

For Dr. Brocklesby see _ante_, pp. 176, 230, 338, 400.

Of Mr. John Nichols, Murphy says that 'his attachment to Dr. Johnson was
unwearied.' _Life of Johnson_, p. 66. He was the printer of _The Lives
of the Poets_ (_ante_, p. 36), and the author of _Biographical and
Literary Anecdotes of William Bowyer, Printer_, 'the last of the learned
printers,' whose apprentice he had been (_ante_, p. 369). Horace Walpole
(_Letters_, viii. 259) says:--

'I scarce ever saw a book so correct as Mr. Nichols's _Life of Mr.
Bowyer_. I wish it deserved the pains he has bestowed on it every way,
and that he would not dub so many men _great_. I have known several of
his _heroes_, who were very _little_ men.'

The _Life of Bowyer_ being recast and enlarged was republished under the
title of _Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century_. From 1778 till
his death in 1826 the _Gentleman's Magazine_ was in great measure in his
hands. Southey, writing in 1804, says:--

'I have begun to take in here at Keswick the _Gentleman's Magazine_,
_alias_ the _Oldwomania_, to enlighten a Portuguese student among the
mountains; it does amuse me by its exquisite inanity, and the glorious
and intense stupidity of its correspondents; it is, in truth, a disgrace
to the age and the country.' Southey's _Life and Correspondence_,
ii. 281.

Mr. William Cooke, 'commonly called Conversation Cooke,' wrote _Lives of
Macklin and Foote_. Forster's _Essays_, ii. 312, and _Gent. Mag._ 1824,
p. 374. Mr. Richard Paul Joddrel, or Jodrell, was the author of _The
Persian Heroine, a Tragedy_, which, in Baker's _Biog. Dram._ i. 400, is
wrongly assigned to Sir R.P. Jodrell, M.D. Nichols's _Lit. Anec._ ix. 2.

For Mr. Paradise see _ante_, p. 364, note 2.

Dr. Horsley was the controversialist, later on Bishop of St. David's and
next of Rochester. Gibbon makes splendid mention of him (_Misc. Works_,
i. 232) when he tells how 'Dr. Priestley's Socinian shield has
repeatedly been pierced by the mighty spear of Horsley.' Windham,
however, in his _Diary_ in one place (p. 125) speaks of him as having
his thoughts 'intent wholly on prospects of Church preferment;' and in
another place (p. 275) says that 'he often lays down with great
confidence what turns out afterwards to be wrong.' In the House of
Lords he once said that 'he did not know what the mass of the people in
any country had to do with the laws but to obey them.' _Parl. Hist_.
xxxii. 258. Thurlow rewarded him for his _Letters to Priestley_ by a
stall at Gloucester, 'saying that "those who supported the Church should
be supported by it."' Campbell's _Chancellors_, ed. 1846, v. 635.

For Mr. Windham, see _ante_, p. 200.

Hawkins (_Life of Johnson_, p. 567) thus writes of the formation of the

'I was not made privy to this his intention, but all circumstances
considered, it was no matter of surprise to me when I heard that the
great Dr. Johnson had, in the month of December 1783, formed a sixpenny
club at an ale-house in Essex-street, and that though some of the
persons thereof were persons of note, strangers, under restrictions, for
three pence each night might three nights in a week hear him talk and
partake of his conversation.'

Miss Hawkins (_Memoirs_, i. 103) says:--

'Boswell was well justified in his resentment of my father's designation
of this club as a sixpenny club, meeting at an ale-house. ... Honestly
speaking, I dare say my father did not like being passed over.'

Sir Joshua Reynolds, writing of the club, says:--

'Any company was better than none; by which Johnson connected himself
with many mean persons whose presence he could command. For this purpose
he established a club at a little ale-house in Essex-street, composed of
a strange mixture of very learned and very ingenious odd people. Of the
former were Dr. Heberden, Mr. Windham, Mr. Boswell, Mr. Steevens, Mr.
Paradise. Those of the latter I do not think proper to enumerate.'
Taylor's _Life of Reynolds_, ii. 455.

It is possible that Reynolds had never seen the Essex Head, and that the
term 'little ale-house' he had borrowed from Hawkins's account. Possibly
too his disgust at Barry here found vent. Murphy (_Life of Johnson_, p.
124) says:--

'The members of the club were respectable for their rank, their talents,
and their literature.'

The 'little ale-house' club saw one of its members, Alderman Clarke
(_ante_, p. 258), Lord Mayor within a year; another, Horsley, a Bishop
within five years; and a third, Windham, Secretary at War within ten
years. Nichols (_Literary Anecdotes_, ii. 553) gives a list of the
'constant members' at the time of Johnson's death.


(Page 399.)

Miss Burney's account of Johnson's last days is interesting, but her
dates are confused more even than is common with her. I have corrected
them as well as I can.

'Dec. 9. He will not, it seems, be talked to--at least very rarely. At
times indeed he re-animates; but it is soon over and he says of
himself:--"I am now like Macbeth--question enrages me."'

'Dec. 10. At night my father brought us the most dismal tidings of dear
Dr. Johnson. He had thanked and taken leave of all his physicians. Alas!
I shall lose him, and he will take no leave of me. My father was deeply
depressed. I hear from everyone he is now perfectly resigned to his
approaching fate, and no longer in terror of death.'

'Dec. 11. My father in the morning saw this first of men. He was up and
very composed. He took his hand very kindly, asked after all his family,
and then in particular how Fanny did. "I hope," he said, "Fanny did not
take it amiss that I did not see her. I was very bad. Tell Fanny to pray
for me." After which, still grasping his hand, he made a prayer for
himself, the most fervent, pious, humble, eloquent, and touching, my
father says, that ever was composed. Oh! would I had heard it! He ended
it with Amen! in which my father joined, and was echoed by all present;
and again, when my father was leaving him, he brightened up, something
of his arch look returned, and he said: "I think I shall throw the ball
at Fanny yet."'

'Dec. 12. [Miss Burney called at Bolt-court.] All the rest went away but
a Mrs. Davis, a good sort of woman, whom this truly charitable soul had
sent for to take a dinner at his house. [See _ante_, p. 239, note 2.]
Mr. Langton then came. He could not look at me, and I turned away from
him. Mrs. Davis asked how the Doctor was. "Going on to death very fast,"
was his mournful answer. "Has he taken," said she, "anything?" "Nothing
at all. We carried him some bread and milk--he refused it, and
said:--'The less the better.'"'

'Dec. 20. This day was the ever-honoured, ever-lamented Dr. Johnson
committed to the earth. Oh, how sad a day to me! My father attended. I
could not keep my eyes dry all day; nor can I now in the recollecting
it; but let me pass over what to mourn is now so vain.' Mme. D'Arblay's
_Diary_, ii. 333-339.


(_Notes on Boswell's note on pages 403-405_.)

[F-1] In a letter quoted in Mr. Croker's Boswell, p. 427, Dr. Johnson
calls Thomas Johnson 'cousin,' and says that in the last sixteen months
he had given him £40. He mentions his death in 1779. _Piozzi
Letters_, ii. 45.

[F-2] Hawkins (_Life_, p. 603) says that Elizabeth Herne was Johnson's
first-cousin, and that he had constantly--how long he does not
say--contributed £15 towards her maintenance.

[F-3] For Mauritius Lowe, see _ante_, iii. 324, and iv. 201.

[F-4] To Mr. Windham, two days earlier, he had given a copy of the _New
Testament_, saying:--'Extremum hoc munus morientis habeto.' Windham's
_Diary_, p. 28.

[F-5] For Mrs. Gardiner see _ante_, i. 242.

[F-6] Mr. John Desmoulins was the son of Mrs. Desmoulins (_ante_, iii.
222, 368), and the grandson of Johnson's god-father, Dr. Swinfen
(_ante_, i. 34). Johnson mentions him in a letter to Mrs. Thrale in
1778. 'Young Desmoulins is taken in an _under-something_ of Drury Lane;
he knows not, I believe, his own denomination.' _Piozzi Letters_,
ii. 25.

[F-7] The reference is to _The Rambler_, No. 41 (not 42 as Boswell
says), where Johnson mentions 'those vexations and anxieties with which
all human enjoyments are polluted.'

[F-8] Bishop Sanderson described his soul as 'infinitely polluted with
sin.' Walton's _Lives_, ed. 1838, p. 396.

[F-9] Hume, writing in 1742 about his _Essays Moral and Political_,

'Innys, the great bookseller in Paul's Church-yard, wonders there is not
a new edition, for that he cannot find copies for his customers.' J.H.
Burton's _Hume_, i. 143.

[F-10] Nichols (_Lit. Anec._ ii. 554) says that, on Dec. 7,

'Johnson asked him whether any of the family of Faden the printer were
living. Being told that the geographer near Charing Cross was Faden's
son, he said, after a short pause:--"I borrowed a guinea of his father
near thirty years ago; be so good as to take this, and pay it for me."'

[F-11] Nowhere does Hawkins more shew the malignancy of his character
than in his attacks on Johnson's black servant, and through him on
Johnson. With the passage in which this offensive _caveat_ is found he
brings his work to a close. At the first mention of Frank (_Life_, p.
328) he says:--

'His first master had _in great humanity_ made him a Christian, and his
last for no assignable reason, nay rather in despite of nature, and to
unfit him for being useful according to his capacity, determined to make
him a scholar.'

But Hawkins was a brutal fellow. See _ante_, i. 27, note 2, and 28, note

[F-12] Johnson had written to Taylor on Oct. 23 of this year:--

'"Coming down from a very restless night I found your letter, which made
me a little angry. You tell me that recovery is in my power. This indeed
I should be glad to hear if I could once believe it. But you mean to
charge me with neglecting or opposing my own health. Tell me, therefore,
what I do that hurts me, and what I neglect that would help me." This
letter is endorsed by Taylor: "This is the last letter. My answer, which
were (_sic_) the words of advice he gave to Mr. Thrale the day he dyed,
he resented extremely from me."' Mr. Alfred Morrison's _Collection of
Autographs_, &c., ii. 343.

'The words of advice' which were given to Mr. Thrale _the day before_
the fatal fit seized him, were that he should abstain from full meals.
_Ante_, iv. 84, note 4. Johnson's resentment of Taylor's advice may
account for the absence of his name in his will.

[F-13] They were sold in 650 Lots, in a four days' sale. Besides the
books there were 146 portraits, of which 61 were framed and glazed.
These prints in their frames were sold in lots of 4, 8, and even 10
together, though certainly some of them--and perhaps many--were
engravings from Reynolds. The Catalogue of the sale is in the
Bodleian Library.


(_Notes on Boswell's note on page 408_.)

[G-1] Mrs. Piozzi records (_Anecdotes_, p. 120) that Johnson told her,--

'When Boyse was almost perishing with hunger, and some money was
produced to purchase him a dinner, he got a bit of roast beef, but could
not eat it without ketch-up; and laid out the last half-guinea he
possessed in truffles and mushrooms, eating them in bed too, for want of
clothes, or even a shirt to sit up in.'

Hawkins (_Life_, p. 159) gives 1740 as the year of Boyse's destitution.

'He was,' he says, 'confined to a bed which had no sheets; here, to
procure food, he wrote; his posture sitting up in bed, his only covering
a blanket, in which a hole was made to admit of the employment of
his arm.'

Two years later Boyse wrote the following verses to Cave from a

      'Hodie, teste coelo summo,
       Sine pane, sine nummo,
       Sorte positus infeste,
       Scribo tibi dolens moeste.
       Fame, bile tumet jecur:
       Urbane, mitte opem, precor.
       Tibi enim cor humanum
       Non a malis alienum:
       Mihi mens nee male grato,
       Pro a te favore dato.
     Ex gehenna debitoria,
     Vulgo, domo spongiatoria.'

He adds that he hopes to have his _Ode on the British Nation_ done that
day. This _Ode_, which is given in the _Gent. Mag._ 1742, p. 383,
contains the following verse, which contrasts sadly with the poor
poet's case:--

     'Thou, sacred isle, amidst thy ambient main,
      _Enjoyst the sweets of freedom_ all thy own.'

[G-2] It is not likely that Johnson called a sixpence 'a serious
consideration.' He who in his youth would not let his comrades say
_prodigious_ (_ante/_, in. 303) was not likely in his old age so to
misuse a word.

[G-3] Hugh Kelly is mentioned _ante_, ii. 48, note 2, and iii. 113.

[G-4] It was not on the return from Sky, but on the voyage from Sky to
Rasay, that the spurs were lost. _Post_, v. 163.

[G-5] Dr. White's _Bampton Lectures_ of 1784 'became part of the
triumphant literature of the University of Oxford,' and got the preacher
a Christ Church Canonry. Of these _Lectures_ Dr. Parr had written about
one-fifth part. White, writing to Parr about a passage in the manuscript
of the last Lecture, said:--'I fear I did not clearly explain myself; I
humbly beg the favour of you to make my meaning more intelligible.' On
the death of Mr. Badcock in 1788, a note for £500 from White was found
in his pocket-book. White pretended that this was remuneration for some
other work; but it was believed on good grounds that Badcock had begun
what Parr had completed, and that these famous _Lectures_ were mainly
their work. Badcock was one of the writers in the _Monthly Review_.
Johnstone's _Life of Dr. Parr_, i. 218-278. For Badcock's correspondence
with the editor of the _Monthly Review_, see _Bodleian_ MS. _Add._
C. 90.

[G-6] 'Virgilium vidi tantum.' Ovid, _Tristia_, iv. 10. 51.

[G-7] Mackintosh says of Priestley:--'Frankness and disinterestedness in
the avowal of his opinion were his point of honour.' He goes on to point
out that there was 'great mental power in him wasted and scattered.'
_Life of Mackintosh_, i. 349. See _ante_, ii. 124, and iv. 238 for
Johnson's opinion of Priestley.

[G-8] Badcock, in using the term 'index-scholar,' was referring no doubt
to Pope's lines:--

'How Index-learning turns no student pale,
 Yet holds the eel of science by the tail.'

_Dunciad_, i. 279.


(_Notes on Boswell's note on pages 421-422_.)

[H-1] The last lines of the inscription on this urn are borrowed, with a
slight change, from the last paragraph of the last _Rambler/_.
(Johnson's _Works_, iii. 465, and _ante_, i. 226.) Johnson visited
Colonel Myddelton on August 29, 1774, in his Tour to Wales. See
_post_, v. 453.

[H-2] Johnson, writing to Dr. Taylor on Sept. 3, 1783, said:--'I sat to
Opey (sic) as long as he desired, and I think the head is finished, but
it is not much admired.' _Notes and Queries_, 6th S. v. 481. Hawkins
(_Life of Johnson_, p. 569) says that in 1784 'Johnson resumed sitting
to Opie, but,' he adds, 'I believe the picture was never finished.'

[H-3] Of this picture, which was the one painted for Beauclerk (_ante_,
p. 180), it is stated in Johnson's _Work_, ed. 1787, xi. 204, that
'there is in it that appearance of a labouring working mind, of an
indolent reposing body, which he had to a very great degree.'

[H-4] It seems almost certain that the portrait of Johnson in the Common
Room of University College, Oxford, is this very mezzotinto. It was
given to the College by Sir William Scott, and it is a mezzotinto from
Opie's portrait. It has been reproduced for this work, and will be found
facing page 244 of volume iii. Scott's inscription on the back of the
frame is given on page 245, note 3, of the same volume.


(_Page_ 424.)

Boswell most likely never knew that in the year 1790 Mr. Seward, in the
name of Cadell the publisher, had asked Parr to write a _Life of
Johnson_. (Johnstone's _Life of Parr_, iv. 678.) Parr, in his amusing
vanity, was as proud of this _Life_ as if he had written it. '"It would
have been," he said, "the third most learned work that has ever yet
appeared. The most learned work ever published I consider Bentley _On
the Epistles of Phalaris_; the next Salmasius _On the Hellenistic
Language_." Alluding to Boswell's Life he continued, "Mine should have
been, not the droppings of his lips, but the history of his mind."'
Field's _Life of Parr_, i. 164.

In the epitaph that he first sent in were found the words 'Probabili

'In arms,' wrote Parr, 'were all the Johnsonians: Malone, Steevens, Sir
W. Scott, Windham, and even Fox, all in arms. The epithet was cold. They
do not understand it, and I am a Scholar, not a Belles-Lettres man.'

Parr had wished to pass over all notice of Johnson's poetical character.
To this, Malone said, none of his friends of the Literary Club would
agree. He pointed out also that Parr had not noticed 'that part of
Johnson's genius, which placed him on higher ground than perhaps any
other quality that can be named--the universality of his knowledge, the
promptness of his mind in producing it on all occasions in conversation,
and the vivid eloquence with which he clothed his thoughts, however
suddenly called upon.' Parr, regardless of Johnson's rule that 'in
lapidary inscriptions a man is not upon oath' (_ante_, ii. 407),
replied, that if he mentioned his conversation he should have to mention
also his roughness in contradiction, &c. As for the epithet _probabili_,
he 'never reflected upon it without almost a triumphant feeling in its
felicity.' Nevertheless he would change it into 'poetae sententiarum et
verborum ponderibus admirabili.' Yet these words, 'energetic and
sonorous' though they were, 'fill one with a secret and invincible
loathing, because they tend to introduce into the epitaph a character of
magnificence.' With every fresh objection he rose in importance. He
wrote for the approbation of real scholars of generations yet unborn.
'That the epitaph was written by such or such a man will, from the
publicity of the situation, and the popularity of the subject, be long
remembered.' Johnstone's _Life of Parr_, iv. 694-712. No objection seems
to have been raised to the five pompous lines of perplexing dates and
numerals in which no room is found even for Johnson's birth and

'After I had written the epitaph,' wrote Parr to a friend, 'Sir Joshua
Reynolds told me there was a scroll. I was in a rage. A scroll! Why,
Ned, this is vile modern contrivance. I wanted one train of ideas. What
could I do with the scroll? Johnson held it, and Johnson must speak in
it. I thought of this, his favourite maxim, in the Life of Milton,
[Johnson's _Works_, vii. 77],

    "[Greek: Otti toi en megaroisi kakon t agathon te tetuktai.]."

In Homer [_Odyssey_, iv. 392] you know--and shewing the excellence of
Moral Philosophy. There Johnson and Socrates agree. Mr. Seward, hearing
of my difficulty, and no scholar, suggested the closing line in the
_Rambler_ [_ante_, i. 226, note 1]; had I looked there I should have
anticipated the suggestion. It is the closing line in Dionysius's

    "[Greek: Anton ek makaron antaxios eiae amoibae.]."

I adopted it, and gave Seward the praise. "Oh," quoth Sir William Scott,
"_[Greek: makaron]_ is Heathenish, and the Dean and Chapter will
hesitate." "The more fools they," said I. But to prevent disputes I have
altered it.

    "[Greek: En makaressi ponon antaxios ein amoibae]."
                  Johnstone's _Life of Parr_, iv. 713.

Though the inscription on the scroll is not strictly speaking part of
the epitaph, yet this mixture of Greek and Latin is open to the censure
Johnson passed on Pope's Epitaph on Craggs.

'It may be proper to remark,' he said, 'the absurdity of joining in the
same inscription Latin and English, or verse and prose. If either
language be preferable to the other, let that only be used; for no
reason can be given why part of the information should be given in one
tongue and part in another on a tomb more than in any other place, or on
any other occasion.' Johnson's _Works_, viii. 353.

Bacon the sculptor was anxious, wrote Malone, 'that posterity should
know that he was entitled to annex R.A. to his name.' Parr was ready to
give his name, lest if it were omitted 'Bacon should slily put the
figure of a hog on Johnson's monument'; just as 'Saurus and Batrachus,
when Octavia would not give them leave to set their names on the Temples
they had built in Rome, scattered one of them [Greek: saurai] [lizards],
and the other [Greek: batrachoi] [frogs] on the bases and capitals of
the columns.' But as for the R.A., the sculptor 'very reluctantly had to
agree to its omission.' Johnstone's _Parr_, iv. 705 and 710.


[1] Nothing can compensate for this want this year of all years.
Johnson's health was better than it had been for long, and his mind
happier perhaps than it had ever been. The knowledge that in his _Lives
of the Poets_, he had done, and was doing good work, no doubt was very
cheering to him. At no time had he gone more into society, and at no
time does he seem to have enjoyed it with greater relish. 'How do you
think I live?' he wrote on April 25. 'On Thursday, I dined with
Hamilton, and went thence to Mrs. Ord. On Friday, with much company at
Reynolds's. On Saturday, at Dr. Bell's. On Sunday, at Dr. Burney's; at
night, came Mrs. Ord, Mr. Greville, &c. On Monday with Reynolds, at
night with Lady Lucan; to-day with Mr. Langton; to-morrow with the
Bishop of St. Asaph; on Thursday with Mr. Bowles; Friday ----; Saturday,
at the Academy; Sunday with Mr. Ramsay.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 107. On
May 1, he wrote:--'At Mrs. Ord's, I met one Mrs. B---- [Buller], a
travelled lady, of great spirit, and some consciousness of her own
abilities. We had a contest of gallantry an hour long, so much to the
diversion of the company that at Ramsay's last night, in a crowded room,
they would have pitted us again. There were Smelt, [one of the King's
favourites] and the Bishop of St. Asaph, who comes to every place; and
Lord Monboddo, and Sir Joshua, and ladies out of tale.' _Ib_. p. 111.
The account that Langton gives of the famous evening at Mrs. Vesey's,
'when the company began to collect round Johnson till they became not
less than four, if not five deep (_ante_, May 2, 1780), is lively
enough; but 'the particulars of the conversation' which he neglects,
Boswell would have given us in full.

[2] In 1792, Miss Burney, after recording that Boswell told some of his
Johnsonian stories, continues:--'Mr. Langton told some stories in
imitation of Dr. Johnson; but they became him less than Mr. Boswell, and
only reminded me of what Dr. Johnson himself once said to me--"Every man
has some time in his life an ambition to be a wag."' Mme. D'Arblay's
_Diary_, v. 307.

[3] _Stephanorum Historia, vitas ipsorum ac libros complectens_. London,

[4] _Senilia_ was published in 1742. The line to which Johnson refers
is, 'Mel, nervos, fulgur, Carteret, unus, habes,' p. 101. In another
line, the poet celebrates Colley Cibber's Muse--the _Musa Cibberi_:
'Multa Cibberum levat aura.' p. 50. See Macaulay's Essays, ed. 1843,
i. 367.

[5] _Graecae Linguae Dialecti in Scholae Westmonast. usum_, 1738.

[6] Giannone, an Italian historian, born 1676, died 1748. When he
published his _History of the Kingdom of Naples_, a friend
congratulating him on its success, said:--'Mon ami, vous vous êtes mis
une couronne sur la tête, mais une couronne d'épines.' His attacks on
the Church led to persecution, in the end he made a retractation, but
nevertheless he died in prison. _Nouv. Biog. Gén._ xx. 422.

[7] See _ante_, ii. 119.

[8] 'There is no kind of impertinence more justly censurable than his
who is always labouring to level thoughts to intellects higher than his
own; who apologises for every word which his own narrowness of converse
inclines him to think unusual; keeps the exuberance of his faculties
under visible restraint; is solicitous to anticipate inquiries by
needless explanations; and endeavours to shade his own abilities lest
weak eyes should be dazzled with their lustre.' _The Rambler_, No. 173.

[9] Johnson, in his _Dictionary_, defines _Anfractuousness_ as _Fulness
of windings and turnings_. _Anfractuosity_ is not given. Lord Macaulay,
in the last sentence in his _Biography of Johnson_, alludes to
this passage.

[10] See _ante_, iii. 149, note 2.

[11] 'My purpose was to admit no testimony of living authors, that I
might not be misled by partiality, and that none of my contemporaries
might have reason to complain; nor have I departed from this resolution,
but when some performance of uncommon excellence excited my veneration,
when my memory supplied me from late books with an example that was
wanting, or when my heart, in the tenderness of friendship, solicited
admission for a favourite name.' Johnson's _Works_, v. 39. He cites
himself under _important_, Mrs. Lennox under _talent_, Garrick under
_giggler_; from Richardson's _Clarissa_, he makes frequent quotations.
In the fourth edition, published in 1773 (_ante_, ii. 203), he often
quotes Reynolds; for instance, under _vulgarism_, which word is not in
the previous editions. Beattie he quotes under _weak_, and Gray under
_bosom_. He introduces also many quotations from Law, and Young. In the
earlier editions, in his quotations from _Clarissa_, he very rarely
gives the author's name; in the fourth edition I have found it
rarely omitted.

[12] In one of his _Hypochondriacks_ (_London Mag._ 1782, p. 233)
Boswell writes:--'I have heard it remarked by one, of whom more remarks
deserve to be remembered than of any person I ever knew, that a man is
often as narrow as he is prodigal for want of counting.'

[13] 'Sept. 1778. We began talking of _Irene_, and Mrs. Thrale made Dr.
Johnson read some passages which I had been remarking as uncommonly
applicable to the present time. He read several speeches, and told us he
had not ever read so much of it before since it was first printed.' Mme.
D'Arblay's _Diary_, i. 96. 'I was told,' wrote Sir Walter Scott, 'that a
gentleman called Pot, or some such name, was introduced to him as a
particular admirer of his. The Doctor growled and took no further
notice. "He admires in especial your _Irene_ as the finest tragedy
modern times;" to which the Doctor replied, "If Pot says so, Pot lies!"
and relapsed into his reverie.' _Croker Corres._ ii. 32.

[14] _Scrupulosity_ was a word that Boswell had caught up from Johnson.
Sir W. Jones (_Life_, i. 177) wrote in 1776:--'You will be able to
examine with the minutest _scrupulosity_, as Johnson would call it.'
Johnson describes Addison's prose as 'pure without scrupulosity.'
_Works_, vii. 472. 'Swift,' he says, 'washed himself with oriental
scrupulosity.' _Ib._ viii. 222. Boswell (_Hebrides_, Aug. 15) writes of
'scrupulosity of conscience.'


     'When thou didst not, savage,
      Know thine own meaning, but wouldst gabble like
      A thing most brutish, I endow'd thy purposes
      With words that made them known.'
      _The Tempest_, act i. sc. 2.

[16] Secretary to the British Herring Fishery, remarkable for an
extraordinary number of occasional verses, not of eminent merit.
BOSWELL. See _ante_, i. 115, note i. Lockman was known in France as the
translator of Voltaire's _La Henriade_. See Marmontel's Preface.
Voltaire's _Works_, ed. 1819, viii. 18.

[17] _Luke_ vii. 50. BOSWELL.

[18] Miss Burney, describing him in 1783, says:--'He looks unformed in
his manners and awkward in his gestures. He joined not one word in the
general talk.' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, ii. 237. See _ante_, ii.
41, note 1.

[19] By Garrick.

[20] See _ante_, i. 201.

[21] See _post_, under Sept. 30, 1783.

[22] The actor. Churchill introduces him in _The Rosciad_ (_Poems_, i.
16):--'Next Holland came. With truly tragic stalk, He creeps, he flies.
A Hero should not walk.'

[23] In a letter written by Johnson to a friend in 1742-43, he says: 'I
never see Garrick.' MALONE.

[24] See _ante_, ii. 227.

[25] _The Wonder! A Woman keeps a Secret_, by Mrs. Centlivre. Acted at
Drury Lane in 1714. Revived by Garrick in 1757. Reed's _Biog.
Dram_. iii. 420.

[26] In _Macbeth_.

[27] Mr. Longley was Recorder of Rochester, and father of Archbishop
Longley. To the kindness of his grand-daughter, Mrs. Newton Smart, I owe
the following extract from his manuscript _Autobiography_:--'Dr. Johnson
and General Paoli came down to visit Mr. Langton, and I was asked to
meet them, when the conversation took place mentioned by Boswell, in
which Johnson gave me more credit for knowledge of the Greek metres than
I deserved. There was some question about anapaestics, concerning which
I happened to remember what Foster used to tell us at Eton, that the
whole line to the _Basis Anapaestica_ was considered but as one verse,
however divided in the printing, and consequently the syllables at the
end of each line were not common, as in other metres. This observation
was new to Johnson, and struck him. Had he examined me farther, I fear
he would have found me ignorant. Langton was a very good Greek scholar,
much superior to Johnson, to whom nevertheless he paid profound
deference, sometimes indeed I thought more than he deserved. The next
day I dined at Langton's with Johnson, I remember Lady Rothes [Langton's
wife] spoke of the advantage children now derived from the little books
published purposely for their instruction. Johnson controverted it,
asserting that at an early age it was better to gratify curiosity with
wonders than to attempt planting truth, before the mind was prepared to
receive it, and that therefore, _Jack the Giant-Killer, Parisenus and
Parismenus_, and _The Seven Champions of Christendom_ were fitter for
them than Mrs. Barbauld and Mrs. Trimmer.' Mrs. Piozzi (_Anec_. p. 16)
says:--'Dr. Johnson used to condemn me for putting Newbery's books into
children's hands. "Babies do not want," said he, "to hear about babies;
they like to be told of giants and castles, and of somewhat which can
stretch and stimulate their little minds." When I would urge the
numerous editions of _Tommy Prudent_ or _Goody Two Shoes_; "Remember
always," said he, "that the parents buy the books, and that the children
never read them.'" For Johnson's visit to Rochester, see _post_,
July, 1783.

[28] See _post_, beginning of 1781, after _The Life of Swift_, and
Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 15.

[29] See _ante_, under Sept. 9, 1779.

[30] Johnson wrote of this grotto (_Works_, viii. 270):--'It may be
frequently remarked of the studious and speculative that they are proud
of trifles, and that their amusements seem frivolous and childish.'

[31] See _ante_, i. 332.

[32] _Epilogue to the Satires_, i. 131. Dr. James Foster, the
Nonconformist preacher. Johnson mentions 'the reputation which he had
gained by his proper delivery.' _Works_, viii. 384. In _The
Conversations of Northcote_, p. 88, it is stated that 'Foster first
became popular from the Lord Chancellor Hardwicke stopping in the porch
of his chapel in the Old Jewry out of a shower of rain: and thinking he
might as well hear what was going on he went in, and was so well pleased
that he sent all the great folks to hear him, and he was run after as
much as Irving has been in our time.' Dr. T. Campbell (_Diary_, p. 34)
recorded in 1775, that 'when Mrs. Thrale quoted something from Foster's
_Sermons_, Johnson flew in a passion, and said that Foster was a man of
mean ability, and of no original thinking.' Gibbon (_Misc. Works_, v.
300) wrote of Foster:--'Wonderful! a divine preferring reason to faith,
and more afraid of vice than of heresy.'

[33] It is believed to have been her play of _The Sister_, brought out
in 1769. 'The audience expressed their disapprobation of it with so much
appearance of prejudice that she would not suffer an attempt to exhibit
it a second time.' _Gent. Mag._ xxxix. 199. It is strange, however, if
Goldsmith was asked to hiss a play for which he wrote the epilogue.
Goldsmith's _Misc. Works_, ii. 80. Johnson wrote on Oct. 28, 1779
(_Piozzi Letters_, ii. 72):--'C---- L---- accuses ---- of making a party
against her play. I always hissed away the charge, supposing him a man
of honour; but I shall now defend him with less confidence.' Baretti, in
a marginal note, says that C---- L---- is 'Charlotte Lennox.' Perhaps
---- stands for Cumberland. Miss Burney said that 'Mr. Cumberland is
notorious for hating and envying and spiting all authors in the dramatic
line.' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, i. 272.

[34] See _ante_, i. 255.

[35] In _The Rambler_, No. 195, Johnson describes rascals such as this
man. 'They hurried away to the theatre, full of malignity and
denunciations against a man whose name they had never heard, and a
performance which they could not understand; for they were resolved to
judge for themselves, and would not suffer the town to be imposed upon
by scribblers. In the pit they exerted themselves with great spirit and
vivacity; called out for the tunes of obscene songs, talked loudly at
intervals of Shakespeare and Jonson,' &c.

[36] See _ante_, ii. 469.

[37] Dr. Percy told Malone 'that they all at the Club had such a high
opinion of Mr. Dyer's knowledge and respect for his judgment as to
appeal to him constantly, and that his sentence was final.' Malone adds
that 'he was so modest and reserved, that he frequently sat silent in
company for an hour, and seldom spoke unless appealed to. Goldsmith, who
used to rattle away upon _all_ subjects, had been talking somewhat
loosely relative to music. Some one wished for Mr. Dyer's opinion, which
he gave with his usual strength and accuracy. "Why," said Goldsmith,
turning round to Dyer, whom he had scarcely noticed before, "you seem to
know a good deal of this matter." "If I had not," replied Dyer, "I
should not, in this company, have said a word upon the subject."' Burke
described him as 'a man of profound and general erudition; his sagacity
and judgment were fully equal to the extent of his learning.' Prior's
_Malone_, pp. 419, 424. Malone in his _Life of Dryden_, p. 181, says
that Dyer was _Junius_. Johnson speaks of him as 'the late learned Mr.
Dyer.' _Works_, viii. 385. Had he been alive he was to have been the
professor of mathematics in the imaginary college at St. Andrews.
Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 25. Many years after his death, Johnson
bought his portrait to hang in 'a little room that he was fitting up
with prints.' Croker's _Boswell_, p. 639.

[38] _Memoirs of Agriculture and other Oeconomical Arts_, 3 vols., by
Robert Dossie, London, 1768-82.

[39] See _ante_, ii. 14.

[40] Here Lord Macartney remarks, 'A Bramin or any cast of the Hindoos
will neither admit you to be of their religion, nor be converted to
yours;--a thing which struck the Portuguese with the greatest
astonishment, when they first discovered the East Indies.' BOSWELL.

[41] See _ante_, ii. 250.

[42] See _ante_, Aug. 30, 1780.

[43] John, Lord Carteret, and Earl Granville, who died Jan. 2, 1763. It
is strange that he wrote so ill; for Lord Chesterfield says (_Misc.
Works_, iv. _Appendix_, p. 42) that 'he had brought away with him from
Oxford, a great stock of Greek and Latin, and had made himself master of
all the modern languages. He was one of the best speakers in the House
of Lords, both in the declamatory and argumentative way.'

[44] Walpole describes the partiality of the members of the
court-martial that sat on Admiral Keppel in Jan. 1779. One of them
'declared frankly that he should not attend to forms of law, but to
justice.' So friendly were the judges to the prisoner that 'it required
the almost unanimous voice of the witnesses in favour of his conduct,
and the vile arts practised against him, to convince all mankind how
falsely and basely he had been accused.' Walpole, referring to the
members, speaks of 'the feelings of seamen unused to reason.' Some of
the leading politicians established themselves at Portsmouth during the
trial. _Journal of the Reign of George III_, ii. 329

[45] See _ante_, ii. 240.

[46] In all Gray's _Odes_, there is a kind of cumbrous splendour which
we wish away.... The mind of the writer seems to work with unnatural
violence. "Double, double, toil and trouble." He has a kind of strutting
dignity, and is tall by walking on tip-toe. His art and his struggle are
too visible, and there is too little appearance of ease and nature.'
Johnson's _Works_, viii. 484-87. See _ante_, i. 402, and ii. 327, 335.

[47] One evening, in the Haymarket Theatre, 'when Foote lighted the King
to his chair, his majesty asked who [sic] the piece was written by? "By
one of your Majesty's chaplains," said Foote, unable even then to
suppress his wit; "and dull enough to have been written by a bishop."'
Forster's _Essays_, ii. 435. See _ante_, i. 390, note 3.

[48] Bk. v. ch. 1.

[49] See _ante_, ii. 133, note 1; Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 27, and
Oct. 28.

[50] The correspondent of _The Gentleman's Magazine_ [1792, p. 214] who
subscribes himself SCIOLUS furnishes the following supplement:--

'A lady of my acquaintance remembers to have heard her uncle sing those
homely stanzas more than forty-five years ago. He repeated the
second thus:--

     She shall breed young lords and ladies fair,
     And ride abroad in a coach and three pair,
     And the best, &c.
     And have a house, &c.

And remembered a third which seems to have been the introductory one,
and is believed to have been the only remaining one:--

     When the Duke of Leeds shall have made his choice
     Of a charming young lady that's beautiful and wise,
     She'll be the happiest young gentlewoman under the skies,
     As long as the sun and moon shall rise,
     And how happy shall, &c.

It is with pleasure I add that this stanza could never be more truly
applied than at this present time. BOSWELL. This note was added to the
second edition.

[51] See _ante_, i. 115, note 1.

[52] See _ante_, i. 82.

[53] Baretti, in a MS. note on _Piozzi Letters_, i. 121, says:--'Johnson
was a real _true-born Englishman_. He hated the Scotch, the French, the
Dutch, the Hanoverians, and had the greatest contempt for all other
European nations; such were his early prejudices which he never
attempted to conquer.' Reynolds wrote of Johnson:--'The prejudices he
had to countries did not extend to individuals. In respect to Frenchmen
he rather laughed at himself, but it was insurmountable. He considered
every foreigner as a fool till they had convinced him of the contrary.'
Taylor's _Reynolds_, ii. 460. Garrick wrote of the French in
1769:--'Their _politesse_ has reduced their character to such a
sameness, and their humours and passions are so curbed by habit, that,
when you have seen half-a-dozen French men and women, you have seen the
whole.' _Garrick Corres_. i. 358.

[54] 'There is not a man or woman here,' wrote Horace Walpole from Paris
(_Letters_ iv. 434), 'that is not a perfect old nurse, and who does not
talk gruel and anatomy with equal fluency and ignorance.'

[55] '"I remember that interview well," said Dr. Parr with great
vehemence when once reminded of it; "I gave him no quarter." The subject
of our dispute was the liberty of the press. Dr. Johnson was very great.
Whilst he was arguing, I observed that he stamped. Upon this I stamped.
Dr. Johnson said, "Why did you stamp, Dr. Parr?" I replied, "Because you
stamped; and I was resolved not to give you the advantage even of a
stamp in the argument."' This, Parr said, was by no means his first
introduction to Johnson. Field's _Parr_, i. 161. Parr wrote to Romilly
in 1811:--'Pray let me ask whether you have ever read some admirable
remarks of Mr. Hutcheson upon the word _merit_. I remember a controversy
I had with Dr. Johnson upon this very term: we began with theology
fiercely, I gently carried the conversation onward to philosophy, and
after a dispute of more than three hours he lost sight of my heresy, and
came over to my opinion upon the metaphysical import of the term.' _Life
of Romilly_, ii. 365. When Parr was a candidate for the mastership of
Colchester Grammar School, Johnson wrote for him a letter of
recommendation. Johnstone's _Parr_, i. 94.

[56] 'Somebody was praising Corneille one day in opposition to
Shakespeare. "Corneille is to Shakespeare," replied Mr. Johnson, "as a
clipped hedge is to a forest."' Piozzi's _Anec_. p. 59.

[57] Johnson, it is clear, discusses here Mrs. Montagu's _Essay on
Shakespeare_. She compared Shakespeare first with Corneille, and then
with Aeschylus. In contrasting the ghost in _Hamlet_ with the shade of
Darius in _The Persians_, she says:--'The phantom, who was to appear
ignorant of what was past, that the Athenian ear might be soothed and
flattered with the detail of their victory at Salamis, is allowed, for
the same reason, such prescience as to foretell their future triumph at
Plataea.' p. 161.

[58] Caution is required in everything which is laid before youth, to
secure them from unjust prejudices, perverse opinions, and incongruous
combinations of images. In the romances formerly written, every
transaction and sentiment was so remote from all that passes among men,
that the reader was in very little danger of making any applications to
himself.' _The Rambler_, No. 4.

[59] Johnson says of Pope's _Ode for St. Cecilia's Day_:--'The next
stanzas place and detain us in the dark and dismal regions of mythology,
where neither hope nor fear, neither joy nor sorrow can be found.'
_Works_, viii. 328. Of Gray's _Progress of Poetry_, he says:--'The
second stanza, exhibiting Mars' car and Jove's eagle, is unworthy of
further notice. Criticism disdains to chase a school-boy to his
common-places.' _Ib_. p. 484.

[60] See _ante_, ii. 178.


     'A Wizard-Dame, the Lover's ancient friend,
      With magic charm has deaft thy husband's ear,
      At her command I saw the stars descend,
      And winged lightnings stop in mid career, &c.'

Hammond. _Elegy_, v. In Boswell's _Hebrides_ (Sept. 29), he said
'Hammond's _Love Elegies_ were poor things.'

[62] Perhaps Lord Corke and Orrery. _Ante_, iii. 183. CROKER.

[63] Colman assumed that Johnson had maintained that Shakespeare was
totally ignorant of the learned languages. He then quotes a line to
prove 'that the author of _The Taming of the Shrew_ had at least read
Ovid;' and continues:--'And what does Dr. Johnson say on this occasion?
Nothing. And what does Mr. Farmer say on this occasion? Nothing.'
Colman's _Terence_, ii. 390. For Farmer, see _ante_, iii. 38.

[64] 'It is most likely that Shakespeare had learned Latin sufficiently
to make him acquainted with construction, but that he never advanced to
an easy perusal of the Roman authors.' Johnson's _Works_, V. 129. 'The
style of Shakespeare was in itself ungrammatical, perplexed, and
obscure.' _Ib_. p. 135.


     'May I govern my passion with
        an absolute sway,
      And grow wiser and better, as
        my strength wears away,
      Without gout or stone by a
        gentle decay.'

_The Old Man's Wish_ was sung to Sir Roger de Coverley by 'the fair
one,' after the collation in which she ate a couple of chickens, and
drank a full bottle of wine. _Spectator_, No. 410. 'What signifies our
wishing?' wrote Dr. Franklin. 'I have sung that _wishing song_ a
thousand times when I was young, and now find at fourscore that the
three contraries have befallen me, being subject to the gout and the
stone, and not being yet master of all my passions.' Franklin's
_Memoirs_, iii. 185.

[66] He uses the same image in _The Life of Milton_ (_Works_, vii.
104):--'He might still be a giant among the pigmies, the one-eyed
monarch of the blind.' Cumberland (_Memoirs_, i. 39) says that Bentley,
hearing it maintained that Barnes spoke Greek almost like his mother
tongue, replied:--'Yes, I do believe that Barnes had as much Greek and
understood it about as well as an Athenian blacksmith.' See _ante_, iii
284. A passage in Wooll's _Life of Dr. Warton_ (i. 313) shews that
Barnes attempted to prove that Homer and Solomon were one and the same
man. But I. D'Israeli says that it was reported that Barnes, not having
money enough to publish his edition of _Homer_, 'wrote a poem, the
design of which is to prove that Solomon was the author of the _Iliad_,
to interest his wife, who had some property, to lend her aid towards the
publication of so divine a work.' _Calamities of Authors_, i. 250.

[67] 'The first time Suard saw Burke, who was at Reynolds's, Johnson
touched him on the shoulder and said, "Le grand Burke."' _Boswelliana_,
p. 299. See ante, ii. 450.

[68] Miss Hawkins (_Memoirs_, i. 279, 288) says that Langton told her
father that he meant to give his six daughters such a knowledge of
Greek, 'that while five of them employed themselves in feminine works,
the sixth should read a Greek author for the general amusement.' She
describes how 'he would get into the most fluent recitation of half a
page of Greek, breaking off for fear of wearying, by saying, "and so it
goes on," accompanying his words with a gentle wave of his hand.'

[69] See post, p. 42.

[70] See ante, i. 326.

[71] This assertion concerning Johnson's insensibility to the pathetick
powers of Otway, is too _round_. I once asked him, whether he did not
think Otway frequently tender: when he answered, 'Sir, he is all
tenderness.' BURNEY. He describes Otway as 'one of the first names in
the English drama.' _Works_, vii. 173.

[72] See ante, April 16, 1779.

[73] Johnson; it seems, took up this study. In July, 1773, he recorded
that between Easter and Whitsuntide, he attempted to learn the Low Dutch
language. 'My application,' he continues, 'was very slight, and my
memory very fallacious, though whether more than in my earlier years, I
am not very certain.' _Pr. and Med._ p. 129, and ante, ii. 263. On his
death-bed, he said to Mr. Hoole:--'About two years since I feared that I
had neglected God, and that then I had not a _mind_ to give him; on
which I set about to read _Thomas à Kempis_ in Low Dutch, which I
accomplished, and thence I judged that my mind was not impaired, Low
Dutch having no affinity with any of the languages which I knew.'
Croker's _Boswell_, p. 844. See ante, iii. 235.

[74] See post, under July 5, 1783.

[75] See ante, ii. 409, and iii. 197.

[76] One of Goldsmith's friends 'remembered his relating [about the year
1756] a strange Quixotic scheme he had in contemplation of going to
decipher the inscriptions on the _written mountains_, though he was
altogether ignorant of Arabic, or the language in which they might be
supposed to be written.' Goldsmith's _Misc. Works_, ed. 1801, i. 40.
Percy says that Goldsmith applied to the prime minister, Lord Bute, for
a salary to enable him to execute 'the visionary project' mentioned in
the text. 'To prepare the way, he drew up that ingenious essay on this
subject which was first printed in the _Ledger_, and afterwards in his
_Citizen of the World_ [No. 107].' _Ib_. p. 65. Percy adds that the Earl
of Northumberland, who was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, regretted 'that
he had not been made acquainted with his plan; for he would have
procured him a sufficient salary on the Irish establishment.' Goldsmith,
in his review of Van Egmont's _Travels in Asia_, says:--'Could we see a
man set out upon this journey [to Asia] not with an intent to consider
rocks and rivers, but the manners, and the mechanic inventions, and the
imperfect learning of the inhabitants; resolved to penetrate into
countries as yet little known, and eager to pry into all their secrets,
with an heart not terrified at trifling dangers; if there could be found
a man who could unite this true courage with sound learning, from such a
character we might hope much information.' Goldsmith's _Works_, ed.
1854, iv. 225. Johnson would have gone to Constantinople, as he himself
said, had he received his pension twenty years earlier. _Post_, p. 27.

[77] It should be remembered, that this was said twenty-five or thirty
years ago, [written in 1799,] when lace was very generally worn. MALONE.
'Greek and Latin,' said Porson, 'are only luxuries.' Rogers's _Table
Talk_, p. 325.

[78] See _ante_, iii. 8.

[79] Dr. Johnson, in his _Life of Cowley_, says, that these are 'the
only English verses which Bentley is known to have written.' I shall
here insert them, and hope my readers will apply them.

     'Who strives to mount Parnassus' hill,
        And thence poetick laurels bring,
      Must first acquire due force and skill,
        Must fly with swan's or eagle's wing.

      Who Nature's treasures would explore,
        Her mysteries and arcana know;
      Must high as lofty Newton soar,
        Must stoop as delving Woodward low.

      Who studies ancient laws and rites,
        Tongues, arts, and arms, and history;
      Must drudge, like Selden, days and nights,
        And in the endless labour die.

      Who travels in religious jars,
        (Truth mixt with errour, shades with rays;)
      Like Whiston, wanting pyx or stars,
        In ocean wide or sinks or strays.

      But grant our hero's hope, long toil
        And comprehensive genius crown,
      All sciences, all arts his spoil,
        Yet what reward, or what renown?

      Envy, innate in vulgar souls,
        Envy steps in and stops his rise,
      Envy with poison'd tarnish fouls
        His lustre, and his worth decries.

      He lives inglorious or in want,
        To college and old books confin'd;
      Instead of learn'd he's call'd pedant,
        Dunces advanc'd, he's left behind:
      Yet left content a genuine Stoick he,
      Great without patron, rich without South Sea.' BOSWELL.

In Mr. Croker's octavo editions, _arts_ in the fifth stanza is
changed into _hearts_. J. Boswell, jun., gives the following reading of
the first four lines of the last stanza, not from _Dodsley's
Collection_, but from an earlier one, called _The Grove_.

     'Inglorious or by wants inthralled,
        To college and old books confined,
      A pedant from his learning called,
        Dunces advanced, he's left behind.'

[80] Bentley, in the preface to his edition of _Paradise Lost_, says:--

     'Sunt et mihi carmina; me quoque dicunt
      Vatem pastores: sed non ego credulus illis.'

[81] The difference between Johnson and Smith is apparent even in this
slight instance. Smith was a man of extraordinary application, and had
his mind crowded with all manner of subjects; but the force, acuteness,
and vivacity of Johnson were not to be found there. He had book-making
so much in his thoughts, and was so chary of what might be turned to
account in that way, that he once said to Sir Joshua Reynolds, that he
made it a rule, when in company, never to talk of what he understood.
Beauclerk had for a short time a pretty high opinion of Smith's
conversation. Garrick, after listening to him for a while, as to one of
whom his expectations had been raised, turned slyly to a friend, and
whispered him, 'What say you to this?--eh? _flabby_, I think.' BOSWELL.
Dr. A. Carlyle (_Auto_. p. 279), says:--'Smith's voice was harsh and
enunciation thick, approaching to stammering. His conversation was not
colloquial, but like lecturing. He was the most absent man in company
that I ever saw, moving his lips, and talking to himself, and smiling in
the midst of large companies. If you awaked him from his reverie and
made him attend to the subject of conversation, he immediately began a
harangue, and never stopped till he told you all he knew about it, with
the utmost philosophical ingenuity.' Dugald Stewart (_Life of Adam
Smith_, p. 117) says that 'his consciousness of his tendency to absence
rendered his manner somewhat embarrassed in the company of strangers.'
But 'to his intimate friends, his peculiarities added an inexpressible
charm to his conversation, while they displayed in the most interesting
light the artless simplicity of his heart.' _Ib_. p. 113. See also
Walpole's _Letters_, vi. 302, and _ante_, ii. 430, note 1.

[82] Garrick himself was a good deal of an infidel: see _ante_, ii. 85,
note 7.

[83] _Ante_, i. 181.

[84] The Tempest, act iv. sc. i. In _The Rambler_, No. 127, Johnson
writes of men who have 'borne opposition down before them, and left
emulation panting behind.' He quotes (_Works_, vii. 261) the following
couplet by Dryden:--

     'Fate after him below with pain did move,
      And victory could scarce keep pace above.'

Young in _The Last Day_, book I, had written:--

     'Words all in vain pant after the distress.'

[85] I am sorry to see in the _Transactions of the Royal Society of
Edinburgh_, vol. ii, _An Essay on the Character of Hamlet_, written, I
should suppose, by a very young man, though called 'Reverend;' who
speaks with presumptuous petulance of the first literary character of
his age. Amidst a cloudy confusion of words, (which hath of late too
often passed in Scotland for _Metaphysicks_,) he thus ventures to
criticise one of the noblest lines in our language:--'Dr. Johnson has
remarked, that "time toil'd after him in vain." But I should apprehend,
that this is _entirely to mistake the character_. Time toils after
_every great man_, as well after Shakspeare. The _workings_ of an
ordinary mind _keep pace_, indeed, with time; they move no faster; _they
have their beginning, their middle, and their end_; but superiour
natures can _reduce these into a point_. They do not, indeed, _suppress_
them; but they _suspend_, or they _lock them up in the breast_.' The
learned Society, under whose sanction such gabble is ushered into the
world, would do well to offer a premium to any one who will discover its
meaning. BOSWELL.

[86] 'May 29, 1662. Took boat and to Fox-hall, where I had not been a
great while. To the old Spring Garden, and there walked long.' Pepys's
_Diary_, i. 361. The place was afterwards known as Faux-hall and
Vauxhall. See _ante_, iii. 308.

[87] 'One that wouldst be a bawd, in way of good service and art nothing
but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pandar.' _King Lear_,
act ii. sc. 2.

[88] Yet W.G. Hamilton said:--'Burke understands everything but gaming
and music. In the House of Commons I sometimes think him only the second
man in England; out of it he is always the first.' Prior's _Burke_, p.
484. See _ante_, ii. 450. Bismarck once 'rang the bell' to old Prince
Metternich. 'I listened quietly,' he said, 'to all his stories, merely
jogging the bell every now and then till it rang again. That pleases
these talkative old men.' DR. BUSCH, quoted in Lowe's _Prince
Bismarck_, i. 130.

[89] See _ante_, i. 470, for his disapproval of 'studied behaviour.'

[90] Johnson had perhaps Dr. Warton in mind. _Ante_, ii. 41, note 1.

[91] See _ante_, i. 471, and iii. 165.

[92] 'Oblivion is a kind of annihilation.' Sir Thomas Browne's
_Christian Morals_, sect. xxi.

[93] 'Nec te quaesiveris extra.' Persius, _Sat_. i. 7. We may compare
Milton's line,

     'In himself was all his state.'
      _Paradise Lost_, v. 353.

[94] See _ante,_ iii. 269.

[95] 'A work of this kind must, in a minute examination, discover many
imperfections; but West's version, so far as I have considered it,
appears to be the product of great labour and great abilities.'
Johnson's _Works,_ viii. 398.

[96] See Boswell's _Hebrides,_ Aug. 25, 1773.

[97] See _ante,_ i. 82, and ii. 228.

[98] See _ante,_ i. 242.

[99] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, under Nov. 11.

[100] A literary lady has favoured me with a characteristick anecdote of
Richardson. One day at his country-house at Northend, where a large
company was assembled at dinner, a gentleman who was just returned from
Paris, willing to please Mr. Richardson, mentioned to him a very
flattering circumstance,--that he had seen his _Clarissa_ lying on the
King's brother's table. Richardson observing that part of the company
were engaged in talking to each other, affected then not to attend to
it. But by and by, when there was a general silence, and he thought that
the flattery might be fully heard, he addressed himself to the
gentleman, 'I think, Sir, you were saying something about,--' pausing in
a high flutter of expectation. The gentleman provoked at his inordinate
vanity, resolved not to indulge it, and with an exquisitely sly air of
indifference answered, 'A mere trifle Sir, not worth repeating.' The
mortification of Richardson was visible, and he did not speak ten words
more the whole day. Dr. Johnson was present, and appeared to enjoy it
much. BOSWELL.


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

Pope, _Epil. to Sat_. ii. 70. Horace Walpole wrote on Aug. 4,1768
(Letters, v. 115):--'We have lost our Pope. Canterbury [Archbishop
Seeker] died yesterday. He had never been a Papist, but almost
everything else. Our Churchmen will not be Catholics; that stock seems
quite fallen.'

[102] Perhaps the Earl of Corke. _Ante_, iii. 183.

[103] Garrick perhaps borrowed this saying when, in his epigram on
Goldsmith, speaking of the ideas of which his head was full, he said:--

     'When his mouth opened all were in a pother,
      Rushed to the door and tumbled o'er each other,
      But rallying soon with all their force again,
      In bright array they issued from his pen.'

Fitzgerald's _Garrick_, ii. 363. See _ante_, ii. 231.

[104] See _ante_, i. 116, and ii. 52.

[105] Horace Walpole (_Letters_, ix. 318) writes of Boswell's _Life of
Johnson:_--'Dr. Blagden says justly, that it is a new kind of libel, by
which you may abuse anybody, by saying some dead person said so and so
of somebody alive.'

[106] See _ante_, ii. III. In the _Gent. Mag._ 1770, p. 78, is a review
of _A Letter to Samuel Johnson, LL.D._, 'that is generally imputed to
Mr. Wilkes.'

[107] 'Do you conceive the full force of the word CONSTITUENT? It has
the same relation to the House of Commons as Creator to creature.' _A
Letter to Samuel Johnson, LL.D._, p. 23.

[108] His profound admiration of the GREAT FIRST CAUSE was such as to
set him above that 'Philosophy and vain deceit' [_Colossians_, ii. 8]
with which men of narrower conceptions have been infected. I have heard
him strongly maintain that 'what is right is not so from any natural
fitness, but because GOD wills it to be right;' and it is certainly so,
because he has predisposed the relations of things so as that which he
wills must be right. BOSWELL. Johnson was as much opposed as the Rev.
Mr. Thwackum to the philosopher Square, who 'measured all actions by the
unalterable rule of right and the eternal fitness of things.' _Tom
Jones_, book iii. ch. 3.

[109] In _Rasselas_ (ch. ii.) we read that the prince's look 'discovered
him to receive some solace of the miseries of life, from consciousness
of the delicacy with which he felt, and the eloquence with which he
bewailed them.' See _ante_, April 8, 1780.

[110] I hope the authority of the great Master of our language will stop
that curtailing innovation, by which we see _critic, public_, &c.,
frequently written instead of _critick, publick_, &c. BOSWELL. Boswell
had always been nice in his spelling. In the Preface to his _Corsica_,
published twenty-four years before _The Life of Johnson_, he defends his
peculiarities, and says:--'If this work should at any future period be
reprinted, I hope that care will be taken of my orthography.' Mr. Croker
says that in a memorandum in Johnson's writing he has found
'_cubic_ feet.'

[111] 'Disorders of intellect,' answered Imlac, 'happen much more often
than superficial observers will easily believe. Perhaps, if we speak
with rigorous exactness, no human mind is in its right state.'
_Rasselas_, ch. 44.

[112] See _ante_, i. 397, for Kit Smart's madness in praying.

[113] Yet he gave lessons in Latin to Miss Burney and Miss Thrale. Mme.
D'Arblay's _Diary_, i. 243. In Skye he said, 'Depend upon it, no woman
is the worse for sense and knowledge.' Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 19.

[114] See _ante_, iii, 240.

[115] Nos. 588, 601, 626 and 635. The first number of the _Spectator_
was written by Addison, the last by Grove. See _ante_, iii. 33, for
Johnson's praise of No. 626.

[116] Sterne is of a direct contrary opinion. See his _Sentimental
Journey_, Article, 'The Mystery.' BOSWELL. Sterne had been of the same
opinion as Johnson, for he says that the beggar he saw 'confounded all
kind of reasoning upon him.' 'He passed by me,' he continues, 'without
asking anything--and yet he did not go five steps farther before he
asked charity of a little woman--I was much more likely to have given of
the two. He had scarce done with the woman, when he pulled his hat off
to another who was coming the same way.--An ancient gentleman came
slowly--and, after him, a young smart one--He let them both pass, and
asked nothing; I stood observing him half an hour, in which time he had
made a dozen turns backwards and forwards, and found that he invariably
pursued the same plan.' _Sentimental Journey_, ed. 1775, ii. 105.

[117] Very likely Dr. Warton. _Ante_, ii. 41.

[118] I differ from Mr. Croker in the explanation of this ill-turned
sentence. The _shield_ that Homer may hold up is the observation made by
Mrs. Fitzherbert. It was this observation that Johnson respected as a
very fine one. For his high opinion of that lady's understanding, see
_ante_, i. 83.

[119] In _Boswelliana_ (p. 323) are recorded two more of Langton's
Anecdotes. 'Mr. Beauclerk told Dr. Johnson that Dr. James said to him he
knew more Greek than Mr. Walmesley. "Sir," said he, "Dr. James did not
know enough of Greek to be sensible of his ignorance of the language.
Walmesley did."' See _ante_, i. 81. 'A certain young clergyman used to
come about Dr. Johnson. The Doctor said it vexed him to be in his
company, his ignorance was so hopeless. "Sir," said Mr. Langton, "his
coming about you shows he wishes to help his ignorance." "Sir," said the
Doctor, "his ignorance is so great, I am afraid to show him the
bottom of it."'

[120] Dr. Francklin. See _ante_, iii. 83, note 3. Churchill attacked him
in _The Rosciad_ (Poems, ii. 4). When, he says, it came to the choice
of a judge,

     'Others for Francklin voted; but 'twas known,
      He sickened at all triumphs but his own.'

[121] See _ante_, iii. 241, note 2.

[122] _Pr. and Med_. p.190. BOSWELL.

[123] _Ib_. 174. BOSWELL.

[124] 'Mr. Fowke once observed to Dr. Johnson that, in his opinion, the
Doctor's literary strength lay in writing biography, in which he
infinitely exceeded all his contemporaries. "Sir," said Johnson, "I
believe that is true. The dogs don't know how to write trifles with
dignity."'--R. Warner's _Original Letters_, p. 204.

[125] His design is thus announced in his _Advertisement_: 'The
Booksellers having determined to publish a body of English Poetry, I was
persuaded to promise them a Preface to the works of each authour; an
undertaking, as it was then presented to my mind, not very tedious or

'My purpose was only to have allotted to every poet an Advertisement,
like that [in original _those_] which we find in the French
Miscellanies, containing a few dates, and a general character; but I
have been led beyond my intention, I hope by the honest desire of giving
useful pleasure.' BOSWELL.

[126] _Institutiones_, liber i, Prooemium 3.

[127] 'He had bargained for two hundred guineas, and the booksellers
spontaneously added a third hundred; on this occasion Dr. Johnson
observed to me, "Sir, I always said the booksellers were a generous set
of men. Nor, in the present instance, have I reason to complain. The
fact is, not that they have paid me too little, but that I have written
too much." The _Lives_ were soon published in a separate edition; when,
for a very few corrections, he was presented with another hundred
guineas.' Nichols's _Lit. Anec._ viii. 416. See _ante_, iii. 111. In Mr.
Morrison's _Collection of Autographs_ &c., vol. ii, 'is Johnson's
receipt for 100_l_., from the proprietors of _The Lives of the Poets_
for revising the last edition of that work.' It is dated Feb. 19, 1783.
'Underneath, in Johnson's autograph, are these words: "It is great
impudence to put _Johnson's Poets_ on the back of books which Johnson
neither recommended nor revised. He recommended only Blackmore on the
Creation, and Watts. How then are they Johnson's? This is indecent."'
The poets whom Johnson recommended were Blackmore, Watts, Pomfret, and
Yalden. _Ante_, under Dec. 29, 1778.

[128] Gibbon says of the last five quartos of the six that formed his
_History_:--'My first rough manuscript, without any intermediate copy,
has been sent to the press.' _Misc. Works_, i. 255. In the _Memoir of
Goldsmith_, prefixed to his _Misc. Works_, i. 113, it is said:--'In
whole quires of his _Histories_, _Animated Nature_, &c., he had seldom
occasion to correct or alter a single word.' See _ante_, i. 203.

[129] From Waller's _Of Loving at First Sight_. Waller's _Poems,
Miscellanies_, xxxiv.

[130] He trusted greatly to his memory. If it did not retain anything
exactly, he did not think himself bound to look it up. Thus in his
criticism on Congreve (_Works_, viii. 31) he says:--'Of his plays I
cannot speak distinctly; for since I inspected them many years have
passed.' In a note on his _Life of Rowe_, Nichols says:--'This _Life_
is a very remarkable instance of the uncommon strength of Dr. Johnson's
memory. When I received from him the MS. he complacently observed that
the criticism was tolerably well done, considering that he had not read
one of Rowe's plays for thirty years.' _Ib_. vii. 417.

[131] Thus:--'In the _Life of Waller_, Mr. Nichols will find a reference
to the _Parliamentary History_ from which a long quotation is to be
inserted. If Mr. Nichols cannot easily find the book, Mr. Johnson will
send it from Streatham.'

'Clarendon is here returned.'

'By some accident, I laid _your_ note upon Duke up so safely, that I
cannot find it. Your informations have been of great use to me. I must
beg it again; with another list of our authors, for I have laid that
with the other. I have sent Stepney's Epitaph. Let me have the revises
as soon as can be. Dec. 1778.'

'I have sent Philips, with his Epitaphs, to be inserted. The fragment of
a preface is hardly worth the impression, but that we may seem to do
something. It may be added to the _Life of Philips_. The Latin page is
to be added to the _Life of Smith_. I shall be at home to revise the two
sheets of Milton. March 1, 1779.'

'Please to get me the last edition of Hughes's _Letters_; and try to get
_Dennis upon Blackmore_, and upon Calo, and any thing of the same writer
against Pope. Our materials are defective.'

'As Waller professed to have imitated Fairfax, do you think a few pages
of Fairfax would enrich our edition? Few readers have seen it, and it
may please them. But it is not necessary.'

'An account of the Lives and works of some of the most eminent English
Poets. By, &c.--"The English Poets, biographically and critically
considered, by SAM. JOHNSON."--Let Mr. Nichols take his choice, or make
another to his mind. May, 1781.'

'You somehow forgot the advertisement for the new edition. It was not
inclosed. Of Gay's _Letters_ I see not that any use can be made, for
they give no information of any thing. That he was a member of the
Philosophical Society is something; but surely he could be but a
corresponding member. However, not having his life here, I know not how
to put it in, and it is of little importance.'

See several more in _The Gent. Mag._, 1785. The Editor of that
Miscellany, in which Johnson wrote for several years, seems justly to
think that every fragment of so great a man is worthy of being
preserved. BOSWELL. In the original MS. in the British Museum, _Your_ in
the third paragraph of this note is not in italics. Johnson writes his
correspondent's name _Nichols_, _Nichol_, and _Nicol_. In the fourth
paragraph he writes, first _Philips_, and next _Phillips_. His spelling
was sometimes careless, _ante_, i. 260, note 2. In the _Gent. Mag._ for
1785, p. 10, another of these notes is published:--'In reading Rowe in
your edition, which is very impudently called mine, I observed a little
piece unnaturally and odiously obscene. I was offended, but was still
more offended when I could not find it in Rowe's genuine volumes. To
admit it had been wrong; to interpolate it is surely worse. If I had
known of such a piece in the whole collection, I should have been angry.
What can be done?' In a note, Mr. Nichols says that this piece 'has not
only appeared in the _Works_ of Rowe, but has been transplanted by Pope
into the _Miscellanies_ he published in his own name and that of
Dean Swift.'

[132] He published, in 1782, a revised edition of Baker's_ Biographia
Dramatica_. Baker was a grandson of De Foe. _Gent. Mag._ 1782, p. 77.

[133] Dryden writing of satiric poetry, says:--'Had I time I could
enlarge on the beautiful turns of words and thoughts, which are as
requisite in this as in heroic poetry itself; of which the satire is
undoubtedly a species. With these beautiful turns I confess myself to
have been unacquainted, till about twenty years ago, in a conversation
which I had with that noble wit of Scotland, Sir George Mackenzie, he
asked me why I did not imitate in my verses the turns of Mr. Waller, and
Sir John Denham. ... This hint, thus seasonably given me, first made me
sensible of my own wants, and brought me afterwards to seek for the
supply of them in other English authors. I looked over the darling of my
youth, the famous Cowley.' Dryden's _Works_, ed. 1821, xiii. III.

[134] In one of his letters to Nichols, Johnson says:--'You have now all
Cowley. I have been drawn to a great length, but Cowley or Waller never
had any critical examination before.' _Gent. Mag._ 1785, p.9.

[135] _Life of Sheffield_. BOSWELL. Johnson's _Works_, vii. 485.

[136] See, however, p.11 of this volume, where the same remark is made
and Johnson is there speaking of _prose_. MALONE.


     'Purpureus, late qui splendeat unus et alter
      Assuitur pannus.'

     '... Shreds of purple with broad lustre shine
     Sewed on your poem.'

FRANCIS. Horace, _Ars Poet_. 15.

[138] The original reading is enclosed in crochets, and the present one
is printed in Italicks. BOSWELL.

[139] I have noticed a few words which, to our ears, are more uncommon
than at least two of the three that Boswell mentions; as, 'Languages
divaricate,' _Works_, vii. 309; 'The mellifluence of Pope's numbers,'
_ib._ 337; 'A subject flux and transitory,' _ib._ 389; 'His prose is
pure without scrupulosity,' _ib._ 472; 'He received and accommodated the
ladies' (said of one serving behind the counter), _ib._ viii. 62; 'The
prevalence of this poem was gradual,' _ib._ p. 276; 'His style is
sometimes concatenated,' _ib._ p. 458. Boswell, on the next page,
supplies one more instance--'Images such as the superficies of nature
readily supplies.'

[140] See _ante_, iii. 249.

[141] Veracious is perhaps one of the 'four or five words' which Johnson
added, or thought that he added, to the English language. _Ante_, i.
221. He gives it in his _Dictionary_, but without any authority for it.
It is however older than his time.

[142] See Johnson's _Works_, vii. 134, 212, and viii. 386.

[143] Horace Walpole (_Letters_, vii. 452) writes of Johnson's
'_Billingsgate on Milton_.' A later letter shows that, like so many of
Johnson's critics, he had not read the _Life_. _Ib_. p. 508.

[144] _Works_, vii. 108.

[145] Thirty years earlier he had written of Milton as 'that poet whose
works may possibly be read when every other monument of British
greatness shall be obliterated.' _Ante_, i. 230. See _ante_, ii. 239.

[146] Earl Stanhope (_Life of Pitt_, ii. 65) describes this Society in
1790, 'as a Club, till then of little note, which had a yearly festival
in commemoration of the events of 1688. It had been new-modelled, and
enlarged with a view to the transactions at Paris, but still retained
its former name to imply a close connection between the principles of
1688 in England, and the principles of 1789 in France.' The Earl
Stanhope of that day presided at the anniversary meeting on Nov. 4,
1789. Nov. 4 was the day on which William III. landed.

[147] See _An Essay on the Life, Character, and writings of Dr. Samuel
Johnson_, London, 1787; which is very well written, making a proper
allowance for the democratical bigotry of its authour; whom I cannot
however but admire for his liberality in speaking thus of my
illustrious friend:--

'He possessed extraordinary powers of understanding, which were much
cultivated by study, and still more by meditation and reflection. His
memory was remarkably retentive, his imagination uncommonly vigorous,
and his judgement keen and penetrating. He had a strong sense of the
importance of religion; his piety was sincere, and sometimes ardent; and
his zeal for the interests of virtue was often manifested in his
conversation and in his writings. The same energy which was displayed in
his literary productions was exhibited also in his conversation, which
was various, striking, and instructive; and perhaps no man ever equalled
him for nervous and pointed repartees.'

'His _Dictionary_, his moral Essays, and his productions in polite
literature, will convey useful instruction, and elegant entertainment,
as long as the language in which they are written shall be
understood.' BOSWELL.

[148] Boswell paraphrases the following passage:--'The King, with lenity
of which the world has had perhaps no other example, declined to be the
judge or avenger of his own or his father's wrongs; and promised to
admit into the Act of Oblivion all, except those whom the Parliament
should except; and the Parliament doomed none to capital punishment but
the wretches who had immediately co-operated in the murder of the King.
Milton was certainly not one of them; he had only justified what they
had done.' Johnson's _Works_, vii. 95.

     'Though fall'n on evil days,
      On evil days though fall'n and evil tongues,
      In darkness, and with dangers compast round.'
                _Paradise Lost_, vii. 26.

[150] Johnson's _Works_, vii. 105.

[151] 'His political notions were those of an acrimonious and surly
republican.' _Ib_. p. 116.

[152] 'What we know of Milton's character in domestick relations is,
that he was severe and arbitrary.' _Ib._ p. 116.

[153] 'His theological opinions are said to have been first,
Calvinistical; and afterwards, perhaps when he began to hate the
Presbyterians, to have tended towards Arminianism.... He appears to have
been untainted by any heretical peculiarity of opinion.' _Ib._ p. 115.

[154] Mr. Malone things it is rather a proof that he felt nothing of
those cheerful sensations which he has described: that on these topicks
it is the _poet_, and not the _man_, that writes. BOSWELL.

[155] See _ante_, i. 427, ii. 124, and iv. 20, for Johnson's
condemnation of blank verse. This condemnations was not universal. Of
Dryden, he wrote (_Works_, vii. 249):--'He made rhyming tragedies, till,
by the prevalence of manifest propriety, he seems to have grown ashamed
of making them any longer.' His own _Irene_ is in blank verse; though
Macaulay justly remarks of it:--'He had not the slightest notion of what
blank verse should be.' (Macaulay's _Writings and Speeches_, ed. 1871,
p. 380.) Of Thomson's _Seasons_, he says (_Works_, vii. 377):--'His is one
of the works in which blank verse seems properly used.' Of Young's
_Night Thoughts_:--'This is one of the few poems in which blank verse
could not be changed for rhyme but with disadvantage.' _Ib_. p. 460. Of
Milton himself, he writes:--'Whatever be the advantages of rhyme, I
cannot prevail on myself to wish that Milton had been a rhymer; for I
cannot wish his work to be other than it is; yet, like other heroes, he
is to be admired rather than imitated.' _Ib_. vii. 142. How much he felt
the power of Milton's blank verse is shewn by his _Rambler_, No. 90,
where, after stating that 'the noblest and most majestick pauses which
our versification admits are upon the fourth and sixth syllables,' he
adds:--' Some passages [in Milton] which conclude at this stop [the
sixth syllable] I could never read without some strong emotions of
delight or admiration.' 'If,' he continues, 'the poetry of Milton be
examined with regard to the pauses and flow of his verses into each
other, it will appear that he has performed all that our language would
admit.' Cowper was so indignant at Johnson's criticism of Milton's blank
verse that he wrote:--'Oh! I could thresh his old jacket till I made his
pension jingle in his pocket.' Southey's _Cowper_, iii. 315.

[156] One of the most natural instances of the effect of blank verse
occurred to the late Earl of Hopeton. His Lordship observed one of his
shepherds poring in the fields upon Milton's _Paradise Lost_; and having
asked him what book it was, the man answered, 'An't please your
Lordship, this is a very odd sort of an authour: he would fain rhyme,
but cannot get at it.' BOSWELL. 'The variety of pauses, so much boasted
by the lovers of blank verse, changes the measures of an English poet to
the periods of a declaimer; and there are only a few skilful and happy
readers of Milton, who enable their audience to perceive where the lines
end or begin. "Blank verse," said an ingenious critick, "seems to be
verse only to the eye."' Johnson's _Works_, vii. 141. In the _Life of
Roscommon_ (_ib_. p. 171), he says:--'A poem frigidly didactick, without
rhyme, is so near to prose, that the reader only scorns it for
pretending to be verse.'

[157] Mr. Locke. Often mentioned in Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_.

[158] See vol. in. page 71. BOSWELL.

[159] It is scarcely a defence. Whatever it was, he thus ends it:-'It is
natural to hope, that a comprehensive is likewise an elevated soul, and
that whoever is wise is also honest. I am willing to believe that
Dryden, having employed his mind, active as it was, upon different
studies, and filled it, capacious as it was, with other materials, came
unprovided to the controversy, and wanted rather skill to discover the
right than virtue to maintain it. But inquiries into the heart are not
for man; we must now leave him to his judge.' Works, vii. 279.

[160] In the original _fright_. _The Hind and the Panther_, i. 79.

[161] In this quotation two passages are joined. _Works_, vii. 339, 340.

[162] 'The deep and pathetic morality of the _Vanity of Human Wishes_'
says Sir Walter Scott, 'has often extracted tears from those whose eyes
wander dry over the pages of professed sentimentality.' CROKER. It. drew
tears from Johnson himself. 'When,' says Mrs. Piozzi (_Anec_. p. 50),
'he read his own satire, in which the life of a scholar is painted, he
burst into a passion of tears. The family and Mr. Scott only were
present, who, in a jocose way, clapped him on the back, and
said:--"What's all this, my dear Sir? Why you, and I, and Hercules, you
know, were all troubled with melancholy." He was a very large man, and
made out the triumvirate with Johnson and Hercules comically enough. The
Doctor was so delighted at his odd sally, that he suddenly embraced him,
and the subject was immediately changed.'

[163] In Disraeli's _Curiosities of Literature_, ed. 1834, iv. 180, is
given 'a memorandum of Dr. Johnson's of hints for the _Life of Pope_.'

[164] _Works_, viii. 345.

[165] 'Of the last editor [Warburton] it is more difficult to speak.
Respect is due to high place, tenderness to living reputation, and
veneration to genius and learning; but he cannot be justly offended at
that liberty of which he has himself so frequently given an example, nor
very solicitous what is thought of notes which he ought never to have
considered as part of his serious employments.' _Works_, v. 140. See
_post_, June 10,1784.

[166] The liberality is certainly measured. With much praise there is
much censure. _Works_, viii. 288. See _ante_, ii. 36, and Boswell's
_Hebrides_, Aug. 23.

[167] Of Johnson's conduct towards Warburton, a very honourable notice
is taken by the editor of _Tracts by Warburton and a Warburtonian, not
admitted into the Collection of their respective Works_. After an able
and 'fond, though not undistinguishing,' consideration of Warburton's
character, he says, 'In two immortal works, Johnson has stood forth in
the foremost rank of his admirers. By the testimony of such a man,
impertinence must be abashed, and malignity itself must be softened. Of
literary merit, Johnson, as we all know, was a sagacious but a most
severe judge. Such was his discernment, that he pierced into the most
secret springs of human actions; and such was his integrity, that he
always weighed the moral characters of his fellow-creatures in the
"balance of the sanctuary." He was too courageous to propitiate a rival,
and too proud to truckle to a superiour. Warburton he knew, as I know
him, and as every man of sense and virtue would wish to be known,--I
mean, both from his own writings, and from the writings of those who
dissented from his principles, or who envied his reputation. But, as to
favours, he had never received or asked any from the Bishop of
Gloucester; and, if my memory fails me not, he had seen him only once,
when they met almost without design, conversed without much effort, and
parted without any lasting impressions of hatred or affection. Yet, with
all the ardour of sympathetic genius, Johnson has done that
spontaneously and ably, which, by some writers, had been before
attempted injudiciously, and which, by others, from whom more successful
attempts might have been expected, has not _hitherto_ been done at all.
He spoke well of Warburton, without insulting those whom Warburton
despised. He suppressed not the imperfections of this extraordinary man,
while he endeavoured to do justice to his numerous and transcendental
excellencies. He defended him when living, amidst the clamours of his
enemies; and praised him when dead, amidst the _silence of his

Having availed myself of this editor's eulogy on my departed friend, for
which I warmly thank him, let me not suffer the lustre of his
reputation, honestly acquired by profound learning and vigorous
eloquence, to be tarnished by a charge of illiberality. He has been
accused of invidiously dragging again into light certain writings of a
person respectable by his talents, his learning, his station and his
age, which were published a great many years ago, and have since, it is
said, been silently given up by their authour. But when it is considered
that these writings were not _sins of youth_, but deliberate works of
one well-advanced in life, overflowing at once with flattery to a great
man of great interest in the Church, and with unjust and acrimonious
abuse of two men of eminent merit; and that, though it would have been
unreasonable to expect an humiliating recantation, no apology whatever
has been made in the cool of the evening, for the oppressive fervour of
the heat of the day; no slight relenting indication has appeared in any
note, or any corner of later publications; is it not fair to understand
him as superciliously persevering? When he allows the shafts to remain
in the wounds, and will not stretch forth a lenient hand, is it wrong,
is it not generous to become an indignant avenger? BOSWELL. Boswell
wrote on Feb. 16, 1789:--'There is just come out a publication which
makes a considerable noise. The celebrated Dr. Parr, of Norwich,
has--wickedly, shall we say?--but surely wantonly--published Warburton's
_Juvenile Translations and Discourse on Prodigies_, and Bishop Kurd's
attacks on Jortin and Dr. Thomas Leland, with his _Essay on the Delicacy
of Friendship_.' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 275. The 'editor,' therefore,
is Parr, and the 'Warburtonian' is Hurd. Boswell had written to Parr on
Jan. 10, 1791:--'I request to hear by return of post if I may say or
guess that Dr. Parr is the editor of these tracts.' Parr's _Works_,
viii. 12. See also _ib_. iii. 405.

[168] In Johnson's _Works_ (1787), xi. 213, it is said, that this
meeting was 'at the Bishop of St. ----'s [Asaph's]. Boswell, by his
'careful enquiry,' no doubt meant to show that this statement was wrong.
Johnson is reported to have said:--' Dr. Warburton at first looked
surlily at me; but after we had been jostled into conversation he took
me to a window, asked me some questions, and before we parted was so
well pleased with me that he patted me.'

[169] 'Warburton's style is copious without selection, and forcible
without neatness; he took the words that presented themselves; his
diction is coarse and impure; and his sentences are unmeasured.'
Johnson's _Works_, viii. 288.

[170] Churchill, in _The Duellist (Poems_ ed. 1766, ii. 85), describes
Warburton as having

     'A heart, which virtue ne'er disgraced;
      A head where learning runs to waste.'

[171] _Works_, viii. 230.

[172] 'I never,' writes Mrs. Piozzi, 'heard Johnson pronounce the words,
"I beg your pardon, Sir," to any human creature but the apparently
soft and gentle Dr. Burney.' Burney had asked her whether she had
subscribed £100 to building a bridge. '"It is very comical, is it not,
Sir?" said I, turning to Dr. Johnson, "that people should tell such
unfounded stories." "It is," answered he, "neither comical nor serious,
my dear; it is only a wandering lie." This was spoken in his natural
voice, without a thought of offence, I am confident; but up bounced
Burney in a towering passion, and to my much amaze put on the hero,
surprising Dr. Johnson into a sudden request for pardon, and
protestation of not having ever intended to accuse his friend of a
falsehood.' Hayward's _Piozzi_, i. 312.

[173] In the original, '_nor_.' _Works_, viii. 311.

[174] In the original, '_either_ wise or merry.'

[175] In the original, '_stands upon record_'.

[176] _Works_, viii. 316. Surely the words 'had not much to say' imply
that Johnson had heard the answer, but thought little of its wit.
According to Mr. Croker, the repartee is given in Ruffhead's _Life of
Pope_, and this book Johnson had seen. _Ante_, ii. 166.

[177] Let me here express my grateful remembrance of Lord Somerville's
kindness to me, at a very early period. He was the first person of high
rank that took particular notice of me in the way most flattering to a
young man, fondly ambitious of being distinguished for his literary
talents; and by the honour of his encouragement made me think well of
myself, and aspire to deserve it better. He had a happy art of
communicating his varied knowledge of the world, in short remarks and
anecdotes, with a quiet pleasant gravity, that was exceedingly engaging.
Never shall I forget the hours which I enjoyed with him at his
apartments in the Royal Palace of Holy-Rood House, and at his seat near
Edinburgh, which he himself had formed with an elegant taste. BOSWELL.

[178] _Ante_, iii. 392.

[179] Boswell, I think, misunderstands Johnson. Johnson said (_Works_,
viii. 313) that 'Pope's admiration of the Great seems to have increased
in the advance of life.' His _Iliad_ he had dedicated to Congreve, but
'to his latter works he took care to annex names dignified with titles,
but was not very happy in his choice; for, except Lord Bathurst, none of
his noble friends were such as that a good man would wish to have his
intimacy with them known to posterity; he can derive little honour from
the notice of Cobham, Burlington, or Bolingbroke.' Johnson, it seems
clear, is speaking, not of the noblemen whom Pope knew in general, but
of those to whom he dedicated any of his works. Among them Lord
Marchmont is not found, so that on him no slight is cast.

[180] Neither does Johnson actually say that Lord Marchmont had 'any
concern,' though perhaps he implies it. He writes:--'Pope left the care
of his papers to his executors; first to Lord Bolingbroke; and, if he
should not be living, to the Earl of Marchmont: undoubtedly expecting
them to be proud of the trust, and eager to extend his fame. But let no
man dream of influence beyond his life. After a decent time, Dodsley the
bookseller went to solicit preference as the publisher, and was told
that the parcel had not been yet inspected; and, whatever was the
reason, the world has been disappointed of what was "reserved for the
next age."' _Ib_. p. 306. As Bolingbroke outlived Pope by more than
seven years, it is clear, from what Johnson states, that he alone had
the care of the papers, and that he gave the answer to Dodsley.
Marchmont, however, knew the contents of the papers. _Ib_. p. 319.

[181] This neglect did not arise from any ill-will towards Lord
Marchmont, but from inattention; just as he neglected to correct his
statement concerning the family of Thomson the poet, after it had been
shewn to be erroneous (_ante_, in. 359). MALONE.

[182] _Works, vii. 420._

[183] Benjamin Victor published in 1722, a _Letter to Steele_, and in
1776, _Letters, Dramatic Pieces, and Poems_ Brit. Mus. Catalogue.

[184] Mr. _Wilks_. See _ante_, i. 167, note 1.

[185] See _post_, p. 91 and Macaulay's _Essay on Addison_ (ed. 1974, iv.

[186] 'A better and more Christian man scarcely ever breathed than
Joseph Addison. If he had not that little weakness for wine--why we
could scarcely have found a fault with him, and could not have liked him
as we do.' Thackery's _English Humourists_, ed. 1858, p. 94.

[187] See _ante_, i. 30, and iii. 155.

[188] See _post_, under Dec. 2, 1784.

[189] Parnell 'drank to excess.' _Ante_, iii. 155.

[190] I should have thought that Johnson, who had felt the severe
affliction from which Parnell never recovered, would have preserved this
passage. BOSWELL.

[191] Mrs. Thrale wrote to Johnson in May, 1780:-'Blackmore will be
rescued from the old wits who worried him much to your disliking; so, a
little for love of his Christianity, a little for love of his physic, a
little for love of his courage--and a little for love of contradiction,
you will save him from his malevolent critics, and perhaps do him the
honour to devour him yourself.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 122. See
_ante_, ii. 107.

[192] 'This is a tribute which a painter owes to an architect who
composed like a painter; and was defrauded of the due reward of his
merit by the wits of his time, who did not understand the principles of
composition in poetry better than he did; and who knew little, or
nothing, of what he understood perfectly, the general ruling principles
of architecture and painting.' Reynolds's _Thirteenth Discourse_.

[193] Johnson had not wished to write _Lyttelton's Life_. He wrote to
Lord Westcote, Lyttelton's brother, 'My desire is to avoid offence, and
be totally out of danger. I take the liberty of proposing to your
lordship, that the historical account should be written under your
direction by any friend you may be willing to employ, and I will only
take upon myself to examine the poetry.'--Croker's _Boswell_, p.650.

[194] It was not _Molly Aston_ (_ante_ i. 83) but Miss Hill Boothby
(_ib_.) of whom Mrs. Thrale wrote. She says (_Anec_. p.160):--'Such was
the purity of her mind, Johnson said, and such the graces of her manner,
that Lord Lyttelton and he used to strive for her preference with an
emulation that occasioned hourly disgust, and ended in lasting
animosity.' There is surely much exaggeration in this account.

[195] Let not my readers smile to think of Johnson's being a candidate
for female favour; Mr. Peter Garrick assured me, that he was told by a
lady, that in her opinion Johnson was 'a very _seducing man_.'
Disadvantages of person and manner may be forgotten, where intellectual
pleasure is communicated to a susceptible mind; and that Johnson was
capable of feeling the most delicate and disinterested attachment,
appears from the following letter, which is published by Mrs. Thrale
[_Piozzi Letters_, ii. 391], with some others to the same person, of
which the excellence is not so apparent:--

'TO MISS BOOTHBY. January, 1755.


Though I am afraid your illness leaves you little leisure for the
reception of airy civilities, yet I cannot forbear to pay you my
congratulations on the new year; and to declare my wishes that your
years to come may be many and happy. In this wish, indeed, I include
myself, who have none but you on whom my heart reposes; yet surely I
wish your good, even though your situation were such as should permit
you to communicate no gratifications to, dearest, dearest Madam, Your,

[196] Horace, _Odes_, iv. 3.2, quoted also _ante_, i.352, note.

[197] The passage which Boswell quotes in part is as follows:--'When
they were first published they were kindly commended by the _Critical
Reviewers_; [i.e. the writers in the _Critical Review_. In some of the
later editions of Boswell these words have been printed, _critical
reviewers_; so as to include all the reviewers who criticised the work];
and poor Lyttelton, with humble gratitude, returned, in a note which I
have read, acknowledgements which can never be proper, since they must
be paid either for flattery or for justice.' _Works_, viii.491. Boswell
forgets that what may be proper in one is improper in another.
Lyttelton, when he wrote this note, had long been a man of high
position. He had 'stood in the first rank of opposition,' he had been
Chancellor of the Exchequer, and when he lost his post, he had been
'recompensed with a peerage.' See _ante_, ii. 126.

[198] See _post_, June 12 and 15, 1784.

[199] He adopted it from indolence. Writing on Aug. 1, 1780, after
mentioning the failure of his application to Lord Westcote, he
continues:--'There is an ingenious scheme to save a day's work, or part
of a day, utterly defeated. Then what avails it to be wise? The plain
and the artful man must both do their own work.--But I think I have got
a life of Dr. Young.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 173.

[200] _Gent. Mag._ vol. lv. p. 10. BOSWELL.

[201] By a letter to Johnson from Croft, published in the later editions
of the _Lives_, it seems that Johnson only expunged one passage. Croft
says:--'Though I could not prevail on you to make any alteration, you
insisted on striking out one passage, because it said, that, if I did
not wish you to live long for your sake, I did for the sake of myself
and the world.' _Works_ viii.458.

[202] The Late Mr. Burke. MALONE.

[203] See_post_, June 2, 1781.

[204] Johnson's _Works_, viii 440.

[205] _Ib._ p.436

[206] 'Eheu! fugaces, Postume, Postume, Labuntur anni.' 'How swiftly
glide our flying years!' FRANCIS. Horace, _Odes_, ii.14. i.

[207] The late Mr. James Ralph told Lord Macartney, that he passed an
evening with Dr. Young at Lord Melcombe's (then Mr. Dodington) at
Hammersmith. The Doctor happening to go out into the garden, Mr.
Dodington observed to him, on his return, that it was a dreadful night,
as in truth it was, there being a violent storm of rain and wind. 'No,
Sir, (replied the Doctor) it is a very fine night. The LORD is
abroad.' BOSWELL.

[208] See _ante_, ii.96, and iii.251; and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept.

[209] 'An ardent judge, who zealous in his trust, With warmth gives
sentence, yet is always just.' Pope's _Essay on Criticism_, l.677.

[210] _Works_, viii.459. Though the _Life of Young_ is by Croft, yet the
critical remarks are by Johnson.

[211] _Ib._ p.460.

[212] Johnson refers to Chambers's _Dissertation on Oriental Gardening_,
which was ridiculed in the _Heroic Epistle_. See _post_, under May 8,
1781, and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 13.

[213] Boswell refers to the death of Narcissa in the third of the _Night
Thoughts_. While he was writing the _Life of Johnson_ Mrs. Boswell was
dying of consumption in (to quote Young's words)

     The rigid north,
     Her native bed, on which bleak
     Boreas blew.'

She died nearly two years before _The Life_ was published.

[214] _Proverbs_, xviii.14.

[215] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 16.

[216] See vol. i. page 133. BOSWELL.

[217] 'In his economy Swift practised a peculiar and offensive
parsimony, without disguise or apology. The practice of saving being
once necessary, became habitual, and grew first ridiculous, and at last
detestable. But his avarice, though it might exclude pleasure, was never
suffered to encroach upon his virtue. He was frugal by inclination, but
liberal by principle; and if the purpose to which he destined his little
accumulations be remembered, with his distribution of occasional
charity, it will perhaps appear, that he only liked one mode of expense
better than another, and saved merely that he might have something to
give.' _Works_, viii.222.

[218] _Ib_. p.225.

[219] Mr. Chalmers here records a curious literary anecdote--that when a
new and enlarged edition of the _Lives of the Poets_ was published in
1783, Mr. Nichols, in justice to the purchasers of the preceding
editions, printed the additions in a separate pamphlet, and advertised
that it might be had _gratis_. Not ten copies were called for. CROKER.

[220] See _ante_, p.9, and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 15.

[221] _Works_, vii. Preface.

[222] From this disreputable class, I except an ingenious though not
satisfactory defence of HAMMOND, which I did not see till lately, by the
favour of its authour, my amiable friend, the Reverend Mr. Bevill, who
published it without his name. It is a juvenile performance, but
elegantly written, with classical enthusiasm of sentiment, and yet with
a becoming modesty, and great respect for Dr. Johnson. BOSWELL.

[223] Before the _Life of Lyttelton_ was published there was, it seems,
some coolness between Mrs. Montagu and Johnson. Miss Burney records the
following conversation in September 1778. 'Mark now,' said Dr. Johnson,
'if I contradict Mrs. Montagu to-morrow. I am determined, let her say
what she will, that I will not contradict her.' MRS. THRALE. 'Why to be
sure, Sir, you did put her a little out of countenance last time she
came.'...DR. JOHNSON. 'Why, Madam, I won't answer that I shan't
contradict her again, if she provokes me as she did then; but a less
provocation I will withstand. I believe I am not high in her good graces
already; and I begin (added he, laughing heartily) to tremble for my
admission into her new house. I doubt I shall never see the inside of
it.' Yet when they met a few days later all seemed friendly. 'When Mrs.
Montagu's new house was talked of, Dr. Johnson in a jocose manner,
desired to know if he should be invited to see it. "Ay, sure," cried
Mrs. Montagu, looking well pleased, "or else I shan't like it."' Mme.
D'Arblay's _Diary_, i.118, 126. 'Mrs. Montagu's dinners and assemblies,'
writes Wraxall, 'were principally supported by, and they fell with, the
giant talents of Johnson, who formed the nucleus round which all the
subordinate members revolved.' Wraxall's _Memoirs_, ed. 1815, i.160.

[224] Described by the author as 'a body of original essays.' 'I
consider _The Observer,'_ he arrogantly continues, 'as fairly enrolled
amongst the standard classics of our native language.' Cumberland's
_Memoirs_, ii.199. In his account of this _Feast of Reason_ he quite as
much satirises Mrs. Montagu as praises her. He introduces Johnson in it,
annoyed by an impertinent fellow, and saying to him:--'Have I said
anything, good Sir, that you do not comprehend?' 'No, no,' replied he,
'I perfectly well comprehend every word you have been saying.' 'Do you
so, Sir?' said the philosopher, 'then I heartily ask pardon of the
company for misemploying their time so egregiously.' _The Observer_,
No. 25.

[225] Miss Burney gives an account of an attack made by Johnson, at a
dinner at Streatham, in June 1781, on Mr. Pepys (_post_, p. 82), 'one of
Mrs. Montagu's steadiest abettors.' 'Never before,' she writes, 'have I
seen Dr. Johnson speak with so much passion. "Mr. Pepys," he cried, in a
voice the most enraged, "I understand you are offended by my _Life of
Lord Lyttelton_. What is it you have to say against it? Come forth, man!
Here am I, ready to answer any charge you can bring."' After the quarrel
had been carried even into the drawing-room, Mrs. Thrale, 'with great
spirit and dignity, said that she should be very glad to hear no more of
it. Everybody was silenced, and Dr. Johnson, after a pause,
said:--"Well, Madam, you _shall_ hear no more of it; yet I will defend
myself in every part and in every atom."... Thursday morning, Dr.
Johnson went to town for some days, but not before Mrs. Thrale read him
a very serious lecture upon giving way to such violence; which he bore
with a patience and quietness that even more than made his peace with
me.' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, ii. 45. Two months later the quarrel was
made up. 'Mr. Pepys had desired this meeting by way of a reconciliation;
and Dr. Johnson now made amends for his former violence, as he advanced
to him, as soon as he came in, and holding out his hand to him received
him with a cordiality he had never shewn him before. Indeed he told me
himself that he thought the better of Mr. Pepys for all that had
passed.' _Ib._ p. 82. Miss Burney, in Dec. 1783, described the quarrel
to Mr. Cambridge:--'"I never saw Dr. Johnson really in a passion but
then; and dreadful indeed it was to see. I wished myself away a thousand
times. It was a frightful scene. He so red, poor Mr. Pepys so pale." "It
was behaving ill to Mrs. Thrale certainly to quarrel in her house."
"Yes, but he never repeated it; though he wished of all things to have
gone through just such another scene with Mrs. Montagu; and to refrain
was an act of heroic forbearance. She came to Streatham one morning, and
I saw he was dying to attack her." "And how did Mrs. Montagu herself
behave?" Very stately, indeed, at first. She turned from him very
stiffly, and with a most distant air, and without even courtesying to
him, and with a firm intention to keep to what she had publicly
declared--that she would never speak to him more. However, he went up to
her himself, longing to begin, and very roughly said:--"Well, Madam,
what's become of your fine new house? I hear no more of it." "But how
did she bear this?" "Why, she was obliged to answer him; and she soon
grew so frightened--as everybody does--that she was as civil as ever."
He laughed heartily at this account. But I told him Dr. Johnson was now
much softened. He had acquainted me, when I saw him last, that he had
written to her upon the death of Mrs. Williams [see _post_, Sept. 18,
1783, note], because she had allowed her something yearly, which now
ceased. "And I had a very kind answer from her," said he. "Well then,
Sir," cried I, "I hope peace now will be again proclaimed." "Why, I am
now," said he, "come to that time when I wish all bitterness and
animosity to be at an end."' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, ii. 290.

[226] January, 1791. BOSWELL. Hastings's trial had been dragging on for
more than three years when _The Life of Johnson_ was published. It began
in 1788, and ended in 1795.

[227] _Gent. Mag_. for 1785, p. 412.

[228] Afterwards Sir Robert Chambers, one of his Majesty's Judges in
India. BOSWELL. See _ante_, i.274.

[229] 'He conceived that the cultivation of Persian literature might
with advantage be made a part of the liberal education of an English
gentleman; and he drew up a plan with that view. It is said that the
University of Oxford, in which Oriental learning had never, since the
revival of letters, been wholly neglected, was to be the seat of the
institution which he contemplated.' Macaulay's _Essays_, ed. 1843,
iii. 338.

[230] Lord North's. Feeble though it was, it lasted eight years longer.

[231] Jones's _Persian Grammar_. Boswell. It was published in 1771.

[232] _Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland_. BOSWELL.

[233] See _ante_, ii. 296.

[234] Macaulay wrote of Hastings's answer to this letter:--'It is a
remarkable circumstance that one of the letters of Hastings to Dr.
Johnson bears date a very few hours after the death of Nuncomar. While
the whole settlement was in commotion, while a mighty and ancient
priesthood were weeping over the remains of their chief, the conqueror
in that deadly grapple sat down, with characteristic self-possession, to
write about the _Tour to the Hebrides_, Jones's _Persian Grammar_, and
the history, traditions, arts, and natural productions of India.'
Macaulay's _Essays_, ed. 1843, iii.376.

[235] Johnson wrote the Dedication, _Ante_, i.383.

[236] See _ante_, ii.82, note 2.

[237] _Copy_ is _manuscript for printing_.

[238] Published by Kearsley, with this well-chosen motto:--'From his
cradle He was a SCHOLAR, and a ripe and good one: And to add greater
honours to his age Than man could give him, he died fearing Heaven.'
SHAKSPEARE. BOSWELL. This quotation is a patched up one from _Henry
VIII_, act iv. sc.2. The quotation in the text is found on p. 89 of this
_Life of Johnson_.

[239] Mr. Thrale had removed, that is to say, from his winter residence
in the Borough. Mrs. Piozzi has written opposite this passage in her
copy of Boswell:--'Spiteful again! He went by direction of his
physicians where they could easiest attend to him.' Hayward's _Piozzi_,
i. 91. There was, perhaps, a good deal of truth in Boswell's
supposition, for in 1779 Johnson had told her that he saw 'with
indignation her despicable dread of living in the Borough.' _Piozzi
Letters_, ii.92. Johnson had a room in the new house. 'Think,' wrote
Hannah More, 'of Johnson's having apartments in Grosvenor-square! but he
says it is not half so convenient as Bolt-court.' H. More's
_Memoirs_, i.2O7.

[240] See _ante_, iii. 250.

[241] Shakspeare makes Hamlet thus describe his father:--

     'See what a grace was seated on this brow:
      Hyperion's curls, the front of Jove himself,
      An eye like Mars, to threaten and command;
      A station like the herald, Mercury,
      New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill;
      A combination, and a form, indeed,
      Where every god did seem to set his seal,
      To give the world assurance of a man.!
      [Act iii. sc. 4.]

Milton thus pourtrays our first parent, Adam:--

     'His fair large front and eye sublime declar'd
      Absolute rule; and hyacinthin locks
      Round from his parted forelock manly hung
      Clus'tring, but not beneath his shoulders broad.'
     [_P.L._ iv. 300.] BOSWELL.

[242] 'Grattan's Uncle, Dean Marlay [afterwards Bishop of Waterford],
had a good deal of the humour of Swift. Once, when the footman was out
of the way, he ordered the coachman to fetch some water from the well.
To this the man objected, that _his_ business was to drive, not to run
on errands. "Well, then," said Marlay, "bring out the coach and four,
set the pitcher inside, and drive to the well;"--a service which was
several times repeated, to the great amusement of the village.' Rogers's
_Table-Talk_, p.176.

[243] See _ante_, ii. 241, for Johnson's contempt of puns.

[244] 'He left not faction, but of that was left.' _Absalom and
Achitophel_, l. 568.

[245] Boswell wrote of Gibbon in 1779:--'He is an ugly, affected,
disgusting fellow, and poisons our Literary Club to me.' _Letters of
Boswell_, p.242. See _ante_, ii.443, note 1.

[246] _The schools_ in this sense means a University.

[247] See _ante_, ii.224.

[248] Up to the year 1770, controverted elections had been tried before
a Committee of the whole House. By the _Grenville Act_ which was passed
in that year they were tried by a select committee. _Parl. Hist._ xvi.
902. Johnson, in _The False Alarm_ (1770), describing the old method of
trial, says;--'These decisions have often been apparently partial, and
sometimes tyrannically oppressive.' _Works, vi. 169._ _In The Patriot_
(1774), he says:--'A disputed election is now tried with the same
scrupulousness and solemnity as any other title.' _Ib._ p.223. See
Boswell's _Hebrides_, Nov.10.

[249] Miss Burney describes a dinner at Mr. Thrale's, about this time,
at which she met Johnson, Boswell, and Dudley Long. Mme. D'Arblay's
_Diary_, ii. 14.

[250] See _ante_, ii.171, _post_, two paragraphs before April 10, 1783,
and May 15, 1784.

[251] Johnson wrote on May i, 1780:--'There was the Bishop of St. Asaph
who comes to every place.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 111. Hannah More, in
1782, describes an assembly at this Bishop's. 'Conceive to yourself 150
or 200 people met together dressed in the extremity of the fashion,
painted as red as Bacchanals...ten or a dozen card-tables crammed with
dowagers of quality, grave ecclesiastics and yellow admirals.'
_Memoirs_, i.242. He was elected a member of the Literary Club, 'with
the sincere approbation and eagerness of all present,' wrote Mr.
(afterwards Sir William) Jones; elected, too, on the same day on which
Lord Chancellor Camden was rejected (_ante_, iii. 311, note 2). Two or
three years later Sir William married the Bishop's daughter. _Life of
Sir W Jones_, pp.240, 279.

[252] 'Trust not to looks, nor credit outward show; The villain lurks
beneath the cassocked beau.' Churchill's _Poems_ (ed. 1766), ii.41.

[253] No. 2.

[254] See vol. i p. 378. BOSWELL.

[255] Northcote, according to Hazlitt, said of this character with some
truth, that 'it was like one of Kneller's portraits--it would do for
anybody.' Northcote's _Conversations_, p.86.

[256] See _post_, p.98.

[257] _London Chronicle_, May 2, 1769. This respectable man is there
mentioned to have died on the 3rd of April, that year, at Cofflect, the
seat of Thomas Veale, Esq., in his way to London. BOSWELL.

[258] Dr. Harte was the tutor of Mr. Eliot and of young Stanhope, Lord
Chesterfield's illegitimate son. 'My morning hopes,' wrote Chesterfield
to his son at Rome, 'are justly placed in Mr. Harte, and the masters he
will give you; my evening ones in the Roman ladies: pray be attentive to
both.' Chesterfield's _Letters_, ii.263. See _ante_, i.163, note 1,
ii.120, and _post_, June 27, 1784.

[259] Robertson's _Scotland_ is in the February list of books in the
_Gent. Mag_. for 1759; Harte's _Gustavus Adolphus_ and Hume's _England
under the House of Tudor_ in the March list. Perhaps it was from Hume's
competition that Harte suffered.

[260] _Essays on Husbandry_, 1764.

[261] See _ante_, iii. 381.

[262] 'Christmas Day, 1780. I shall not attempt to see Vestris till the
weather is milder, though it is the universal voice that he is the only
perfect being that has dropped from the clouds, within the memory of man
or woman...When the Parliament meets he is to be thanked by the
Speaker.' Walpole's _Letters_, vii. 480.

[263] Here Johnson uses his title of Doctor (_ante_, ii.332, note 1),
but perhaps he does so as quoting the paragraph in the newspaper.

[264] William, the first Viscount Grimston. BOSWELL. Swift thus
introduces him in his lines _On Poetry, A Rhapsody_:--

     'When death had finished Blackmore's reign,
     The leaden crown devolved to thee,
     Great poet of the hollow tree.'

Mr. Nichols, in a note on this, says that Grimston 'wrote the play when
a boy, to be acted by his schoolfellows.' Swift's _Works_ (1803), xi.
297. Two editions were published apparently by Grimston himself, one
bearing his name but no date, and the other the date of 1705 but no
name. By 1705 Grimston was 22 years old--no longer a boy. The former
edition was published by Bernard Lintott at the Cross Keys,
Fleet-street, and the latter by the same bookseller at the Middle Temple
Gate. The grossness of a young man of birth at this period is shewn by
the Preface. The third edition with the elephant on the tight-rope was
published in 1736. There is another illustration in which an ass is
represented bearing a coronet. Grimston's name is not given here, but
there is a dedication 'To the Right Sensible the Lord Flame.' Three or
four notes are added, one of which is very gross. The election was for
St. Alban's, for which borough he was thrice returned.

[265] Dr. T. Campbell records (_Diary_, p. 69) that 'Boswell asked
Johnson if he had never been under the hands of a dancing master. "Aye,
and a dancing mistress too," says the Doctor; "but I own to you I never
took a lesson but one or two; my blind eyes showed me I could never make
a proficiency."'

[266] See vol. ii. p.286. BOSWELL.

[267] Miss Burney writes of him in Feb. 1779:--'He is a professed
minority man, and very active and zealous in the opposition. Men of such
different principles as Dr. Johnson and Sir Philip cannot have much
cordiality in their political debates; however, the very superior
abilities of the former, and the remarkable good breeding of the latter
have kept both upon good terms.' She describes a hot argument between
them, and continues:--'Dr. Johnson pursued him with unabating vigour and
dexterity, and at length, though he could not convince, he so entirely
baffled him, that Sir Philip was self-compelled to be quiet--which, with
a very good grace, he confessed. Dr. Johnson then recollecting himself,
and thinking, as he owned afterwards, that the dispute grew too serious,
with a skill all his own, suddenly and unexpectedly turned it to
burlesque.' D'Arblay's _Diary_, i. 192.

[268] See _post_, Jan. 20, 1782.

[269] See _ante_, ii.355.

[270] Here Johnson condescended to play upon the words _Long_ and
_short_. But little did he know that, owing to Mr. Long's reserve in his
presence, he was talking thus of a gentleman distinguised amongst his
acquaintance for acuteness of wit; one to whom I think the French
expression, '_Il pétille d'esprit_,' is particularly He has gratified me
by mentioning that he heard Dr. Johnson say, 'Sir, if I were to lose
Boswell, it would be a limb amputated.' BOSWELL.

[271] William Weller Pepys, Esq., one of the Masters in the High Court
of Chancery, and well known in polite circles. My acquaintance with him
is not sufficient to enable me to speak of him from my own judgement.
But I know that both at Eton and Oxford he was the intimate friend of
the late Sir James Macdonald, the _Marcellus_ of Scotland [_ante_,
i.449], whose extraordinary talents, learning, and virtues, will ever be
remembered with admiration and regret. BOSWELL.

[272] See note, _ante_, p. 65, which describes an attack made by Johnson
on Pepys more than two months after this conversation.

[273] Johnson once said to Mrs. Thrale:--'Why, Madam, you often provoke
me to say severe things by unreasonable commendation. If you would not
call for my praise, I would not give you my censure; but it constantly
moves my indignation to be applied to, to speak well of a thing which I
think contemptible.' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, i.132. See _ante_,

[274] 'Mrs. Thrale,' wrote Miss Burney in 1780, 'is a most dear
creature, but never restrains her tongue in anything, nor, indeed, any
of her feelings. She laughs, cries, scolds, sports, reasons, makes
fun--does everything she has an inclination to do, without any study of
prudence, or thought of blame; and, pure and artless as is this
character, it often draws both herself and others into scrapes, which a
little discretion would avoid.' _Ib_. i.386. Later on she writes:--'Mrs.
Thrale, with all her excellence, can give up no occasion of making
sport, however unseasonable or even painful... I knew she was not to be
safely trusted with anything she could turn into ridicule.' _Ib_.
ii.24 and 29.

[275] Perhaps Mr. Seward, who was constantly at the Thrales' (_ante_,
iii. 123).

[276] See _ante_, iii.228, 404.

[277] It was the seventh anniversary of Goldsmith's death.

[278] 'Mrs. Garrick and I,' wrote Hannah More (_Memoirs_, i. 208), 'were
invited to an assembly at Mrs. Thrale's. There was to be a fine concert,
and all the fine people were to be there. Just as my hair was dressed,
came a servant to forbid our coming, for that Mr. Thrale was dead.'

[279] _Pr. and Med._ p 191. BOSWELL. The rest of the entry should be
given:--'On Wednesday, 11, was buried my dear friend Thrale, who died on
Wednesday 4; and with him were buried many of my hopes and pleasures.
[On Sunday, 1st, the physician warned him against full meals, on Monday
I pressed him to observance of his rules, but without effect, and
Tuesday I was absent, but his wife pressed forbearance upon him again
unsuccessfully. At night I was called to him, and found him senseless in
strong convulsions. I staid in the room, except that I visited Mrs.
Thrale twice.] About five, I think, on Wednesday morning he expired; I
felt, &c. Farewell. May God that delighteth in mercy have had mercy on
thee. I had constantly prayed for him some time before his death. The
decease of him from whose friendship I had obtained many opportunities
of amusement, and to whom I turned my thoughts as to a refuge from
misfortunes, has left me heavy. But my business is with myself.' The
passage enclosed in brackets I have copied from the original MS. Mr.
Strahan, the editor, omitted it, no doubt from feelings of delicacy.
What a contrast in this to the widow who published a letter in which she
had written:--'I wish that you would put in a word of your own to Mr.
Thrale about eating less!' _Piozzi Letters_, ii.130. Baretti, in a note
on _Piozzi Letters_, ii.142, says that 'nobody ever had spirit enough to
tell Mr. Thrale that his fits were apoplectic; such is the blessing of
being rich that nobody dares to speak out.' In Johnson's _Works_ (1787),
xi.203, it is recorded that 'Johnson, who attended Thrale in his last
moments, said, "His servants would have waited upon him in this awful
period, and why not his friend?"'

[280] Johnson's letters to the widow show how much he felt Thrale's
death. 'April 5, 1781. I am not without my part of the calamity. No
death since that of my wife has ever oppressed me like this. April 7. My
part of the loss hangs upon me. I have lost a friend of boundless
kindness, at an age when it is very unlikely that I should find another.
April 9. Our sorrow has different effects; you are withdrawn into
solitude, and I am driven into company. I am afraid of thinking what I
have lost. I never had such a friend before. April 11. I feel myself
like a man beginning a new course of life. I had interwoven myself with
my dear friend.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 191-97. 'I have very often,'
wrote Miss Burney, in the following June, 'though I mention them not,
long and melancholy discourses with Dr. Johnson about our dear deceased
master, whom, indeed, he regrets incessantly.' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_,
ii. 63. On his next birthday, he wrote:--'My first knowledge of Thrale
was in 1765. I enjoyed his favour for almost a fourth part of my life.'
_Pr. and Med._ p.191. One or two passages in Mrs. Thrale's Letters shew
her husband's affection for Johnson. On May 3, 1776, she writes:--'Mr.
Thrale says he shall not die in peace without seeing Rome, and I am sure
he will go nowhere that he can help without you.' _Piozzi Letters_,
i.317. A few days later, she speaks of 'our dear master, who cannot be
quiet without you for a week.' _Ib._ p.329. Johnson, in his fine epitaph
on Thrale (_Works_, i.153) broke through a rule which he himself had
laid down. In his _Essay on Epitaphs_ (_Ib._ v 263), he said:--'It is
improper to address the epitaph to the passenger [traveller], a custom
which an injudicious veneration for antiquity introduced again at the
revival of letters.' Yet in the monument in Streatham Church, we find
the same _Abi viator_ which he had censured in an epitaph on Henry IV
of France.

[281] Johnson's letters to Mrs. Thrale shew that he had long been well
acquainted with the state of her husband's business. In the year 1772,
Mr. Thrale was in money difficulties. Johnson writes to her almost as if
he were a partner in the business. 'The first consequence of our late
trouble ought to be an endeavour to brew at a cheaper rate...Unless this
can be done, nothing can help us; and if this be done, we shall not want
help.' _Piozzi Letters_, i.57. He urges economy in the household, and
continues:--'But the fury of housewifery will soon subside; and little
effect will be produced, but by methodical attention and even
frugality.' _Ib._ p.64. In another letter he writes:--'This year will
undoubtedly be an year of struggle and difficulty; but I doubt not of
getting through it; and the difficulty will grow yearly less and less.
Supposing that our former mode of life kept us on the level, we shall,
by the present contraction of expense, gain upon fortune a thousand a
year, even though no improvements can be made in the conduct of the
trade.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 66. Four years later, he writes:--'To-day I
went to look into my places at the Borough. I called on Mr. Perkins in
the counting-house. He crows and triumphs, as we go on we shall double
our business.' _Ib._ p. 333. When the executors first met, he
wrote:--'We met to-day, and were told of mountainous difficulties, till
I was provoked to tell them, that if there were really so much to do and
suffer, there would be no executors in the world. Do not suffer yourself
to be terrified.' _Ib._ ii. 197. Boswell says (_ante_, ii. 44l):--'I
often had occasion to remark, Johnson loved business, loved to have his
wisdom actually operate on real life.' When Boswell had purchased a
farm, 'Johnson,' he writes (_ante_, iii. 207), 'made several
calculations of the expense and profit; for he delighted in exercising
his mind on the science of numbers.' The letter (_ante_, ii. 424)
about the book-trade 'exhibits,' to use Boswell's words, 'his
extraordinary precision and acuteness.' Boswell wrote to Temple:--'Dr.
Taylor has begged of Dr. Johnson to come to London, to assist him in
some interesting business; and Johnson loves much to be so consulted,
and so comes up.' _Ante_, iii. 51, note 3.

[282] Johnson, as soon as the will was read, wrote to Mrs. Thrale:--'You
have, £500 for your immediate expenses, and, £2000 a year, with both the
houses and all the goods.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 192. Beattie wrote on
June 1:--'Everybody says Mr. Thrale should have left Johnson £200 a
year; which, from a fortune like his, would have been a very
inconsiderable deduction.' Beattie's _Life_, ed. 1824, p. 290.

[283] Miss Burney thus writes of the day of the sale:--'Mrs. Thrale went
early to town, to meet all the executors, and Mr. Barclay, the Quaker,
who was the bidder. She was in great agitation of mind, and told me if
all went well she would wave a white handkerchief out of the
coach-window. Four o'clock came and dinner was ready, and no Mrs.
Thrale. Queeny and I went out upon the lawn, where we sauntered in eager
expectation, till near six, and then the coach appeared in sight, and a
white handkerchief was waved from it.' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, ii. 34.
The brewery was sold for £135,000. See _post_, June 16, 1781.

[284] See _post_, paragraph before June 22, 1784.

[285] Baretti, in a MS. note on _Piozzi Letters_, i. 369, says that 'the
two last years of Thrale's life his brewery brought him £30,000 a year
neat profit.'

[286] In the fourth edition of his _Dictionary_, published in 1773,
Johnson introduced a second definition of _patriot_:--'It is sometimes
used for a factious disturber of the government.' Gibbon (_Misc. Works_,
ii. 77) wrote on Feb. 21, 1772:--'Charles Fox is commenced patriot, and
is already attempting to pronounce the words, _country_, _liberty_,
_corruption_, &c.; with what success time will discover.' Forty years
before Johnson begged not to meet patriots, Sir Robert Walpole said:--'A
patriot, Sir! why patriots spring up like mushrooms. I could raise fifty
of them within the four-and-twenty hours. I have raised many of them in
one night. It is but refusing to gratify an unreasonable or an insolent
demand, and up starts a patriot. I have never been afraid of making
patriots; but I disdain and despise all their efforts.' Coxe's
_Walpole_, i. 659. See _ante_, ii. 348, and iii. 66.

[287] He was tried on Feb. 5 and 6, 1781. _Ann. Reg._ xxiv. 217.

[288] Hannah More (_Memoirs_, i. 210) records a dinner on a Tuesday in
this year. (Like Mrs. Thrale and Miss Burney, she cared nothing for
dates.) It was in the week after Thrale's death. It must have been the
dinner here mentioned by Boswell; for it was at a Bishop's (Shipley of
St. Asaph), and Sir Joshua and Boswell were among the guests. Why
Boswell recorded none of Johnson's conversation may be guessed from what
she tells. 'I was heartily disgusted,' she says, 'with Mr. Boswell, who
came up stairs after dinner much disordered with wine.' (See _post_, p.
109). The following morning Johnson called on her. 'He reproved me,' she
writes, 'with pretended sharpness for reading _Les Pensées de Pascal_,
alleging that as a good Protestant I ought to abstain from books written
by Catholics. I was beginning to stand upon my defence, when he took me
with both hands, and with a tear running down his cheeks, "Child," said
he, with the most affecting earnestness, "I am heartily glad that you
read pious books, by whomsoever they may be written.'"

[289] On Good-Friday, in 1778, Johnson recorded:--'It has happened this
week, as it never happened in Passion-week before, that I have never
dined at home, and I have therefore neither practised abstinence nor
peculiar devotion' _Pr. and Med._ p. 163.

[290] No. 7.

[291] See _ante_, iii. 302.

[292] Richard Berenger, Esq., many years Gentleman of the Horse, and
first Equerry to his present Majesty. MALONE. According to Mrs. Piozzi
(_Anec._ p. 156), he was Johnson's 'standard of true elegance.'

[293] See _ante_, iii. 186.

[294] Johnson (_Works_, vii. 449) thus describes Addison's 'familiar
day,' on the authority of Pope:--'He studied all morning; then dined at
a tavern; and went afterwards to Button's [coffee-house]. From the
coffee-house he went again to a tavern, where he often sat late, and
drank too much wine.' Spence (_Anec._ p. 286) adds, on the authority of
Pope, that 'Addison passed each day alike, and much in the manner that
Dryden did. Dryden employed his mornings in writing; dined _en famille_;
and then went to Wills's; only he came home earlier a'nights'

[295] Mr. Foss says of Blackstone:--'Ere he had been long on the bench
he experienced the bad effects of the studious habits in which he had
injudiciously indulged in his early life, and of his neglect to take the
necessary amount of exercise, to which he was specially averse.' He died
at the age of 56. Foss's _Judges_, viii. 250. He suffered greatly from
his corpulence. His portrait in the Bodleian shews that he was a very
fat man. Malone says that Scott (afterwards Lord Stowell) wrote to
Blackstone's family to apologise for Boswell's anecdote. Prior's
_Malone_, p. 415. Scott would not have thought any the worse of
Blackstone for his bottle of port; both he and his brother, the
Chancellor, took a great deal of it. 'Lord Eldon liked plain port; the
stronger the better.' Twiss's _Eldon_, iii. 486. Some one asked him
whether Lord Stowell took much exercise. 'None,' he said, 'but the
exercise of eating and drinking.' _Ib._ p. 302. Yet both men got through
a vast deal of hard work, and died, Eldon at the age of 86, and
Stowell of 90.

[296] See this explained, pp. 52, 53 of this volume. BOSWELL.

[297] See _ante_, ii. 7.

[298] William Scott was a tutor of University College at the age of
nineteen. He held the office for ten years--to 1775. He wrote to his
father in 1772 about his younger brother John (afterwards Lord Eldon),
who had just made a run-away match:--'The business in which I am engaged
is so extremely disagreeable in itself, and so destructive to health (if
carried on with such success as can render it at all considerable in
point of profit) that I do not wonder at his unwillingness to succeed me
in it.' Twiss's _Eldon_, i. 47, 74.

[299] The account of her marriage given By John Wesley in a letter
to his brother-in-law, Mr. Hall, is curious. He wrote on Dec. 22,
1747:--'More than twelve years ago you told me God had revealed it to you
that you should marry my youngest sister ... You asked and gained her
consent... In a few days you had a counter-revelation, that you was not
to marry her, but her sister. This last error was far worse than the
first. But you was not quite above conviction. So, in spite of her poor
astonished parents, of her brothers, of all your vows and promises, you
shortly after jilted the younger and married the elder sister.' Wesley's
_Journal_, ii. 39. Mrs. Hall suffered greatly for marrying a wretch who
had so cruelly treated her own sister, Southey's _Wesley_, i. 369.

[300] See _ante_, iii. 269.

[301] The original 'Robinhood' was a debating society which met near
Temple-Bar. Some twenty years before this time Goldsmith belonged to it,
and, it was said, Burke. Forster's _Goldsmith_, i. 287, and Prior's
_Burke_, p. 79. The president was a baker by trade. 'Goldsmith, after
hearing him give utterance to a train of strong and ingenious reasoning,
exclaimed to Derrick, "That man was meant by nature for a Lord
Chancellor." Derrick replied, "No, no, not so high; he is only intended
for Master of the _Rolls_."' Prior's _Goldsmith_, i. 420. Fielding, in
1752, in _The Covent-Garden Journal_, Nos. 8 and 9, takes off this
Society and the baker. A fragment of a report of their discussions which
he pretends to have discovered, begins thus:--'This evenin the questin
at the Robinhood was, whether relidgin was of any youse to a sosyaty;
baken bifor mee To'mmas Whytebred, baker.' Horace Walpole (_Letters_,
iv. 288), in 1764, wrote of the visit of a French gentleman to England,
'He has _seen_ ... Jews, Quakers, Mr. Pitt, the Royal Society, the
Robinhood, Lord Chief-Justice Pratt, the Arts-and-Sciences, &c.' Romilly
(_Life_, i. 168), in a letter dated May 22, 1781, says that during the
past winter several of these Sunday religious debating societies had
been established. 'The auditors,' he was assured, 'were mostly weak,
well-meaning people, who were inclined to Methodism;' but among the
speakers were 'some designing villains, and a few coxcombs, with more
wit than understanding.' 'Nothing,' he continues, 'could raise up
panegyrists of these societies but what has lately happened, an attempt
to suppress them. The Solicitor-General has brought a bill into
Parliament for this purpose. The bill is drawn artfully enough; for, as
these societies are held on Sundays, and people pay for admittance, he
has joined them with a famous tea-drinking house [Carlisle House],
involving them both in the same fate, and entitling his bill, _A Bill to
regulate certain Abuses and Profanations of the Lord's Day_.' The Bill
was carried; on a division none being found among the Noes but the two
tellers. The penalties for holding a meeting were £200 for the master of
the house, £100 for the moderator of the meeting, and £50 for each of
the servants at the door. _Parl. Hist._ xxii. 262, 279.

[302] _St. Matthew_, xxvii. 52.

[303] I _Corinthians_, xv. 37.

[304] As this subject frequently recurs in these volumes, the reader may
be led erroneously to suppose that Dr. Johnson was so fond of such
discussions, as frequently to introduce them. But the truth is, that the
authour himself delighted in talking concerning ghosts, and what he has
frequently denominated _the mysterious_; and therefore took every
opportunity of _leading_ Johnson to converse on such subjects. MALONE.
See _ante_, i. 406.

[305] Macbean (Johnson's old amanuensis, _ante_, i. 187) is not in
Boswell's list of guests; but in the Pemb. Coll. MSS., there is the
following entry on Monday, April 16:--'Yesterday at dinner were Mrs.
Hall, Mr. Levet, Macbean, Boswel (sic), Allen. Time passed in talk after
dinner. At seven, I went with Mrs. Hall to Church, and came back
to tea.'

[306] Mrs. Piozzi records (_Anec_. p. 192) that he said 'a long time
after my poor mother's death, I heard her voice call _Sam_.' She is so
inaccurate that most likely this is merely her version of the story that
Boswell has recorded above. See also _ante_, i. 405. Lord Macaulay made
more of this story of the voice than it could well bear--'Under the
influence of his disease, his senses became morbidly torpid, and his
imagination morbidly active. At one time he would stand poring on the
town clock without being able to tell the hour. At another, he would
distinctly hear his mother, who was many miles off, calling him by his
name. But this was not the worst.' Macaulay's _Writings and Speeches_,
ed. 1871, p. 374.


     'One wife is too much for most
     husbands to bear,
     But two at a time there's no
     mortal can bear.'

     Act iii. sc. 4.

[308] 'I think a person who is terrified with the imagination of ghosts
and spectres much more reasonable than one who, contrary to the reports
of all historians, sacred and profane, ancient and modern, and to the
traditions of all nations, thinks the appearance of spirits fabulous and
groundless.' _The Spectator_, No. 110.

[309] _St. Matthew_, chap. xxvii. vv. 52, 53. BOSWELL.

[310] Garrick died on Jan. 20, 1779.

[311] Garrick called her _Nine_, (the Nine Muses). 'Nine,' he said, 'you
are a _Sunday Woman_.' H. More's _Memoirs_, i. 113.

[312] See vol. iii. p. 331. BOSWELL.

[313] See _ante_, ii. 325, note 3.

[314] Boswell is quoting from Johnson's eulogium on Garrick in his _Life
of Edmund Smith. Works_, vii. 380. See _ante_, i. 81.

[315] How fond she and her husband had been is shewn in a letter, in
which, in answer to an invitation, he says:--'As I have not left Mrs.
Garrick one day since we were married, near twenty-eight years, I cannot
now leave her.' _Garrick Corres._ ii. 150. 'Garrick's widow is buried
with him. She survived him forty-three years--"a little bowed-down old
woman, who went about leaning on a gold-headed cane, dressed in deep
widow's mourning, and always talking of her dear Davy." (_Pen and Ink
Sketches_, 1864).' Stanley's _Westminster Abbey_, ed. 1868, p. 305.

[316] _Love's Labour's Lost_, act ii. sc. i.

[317] See _ante_, ii. 461.

[318] Horace Walpole (_Letters_, vii. 346) describes Hollis as 'a most
excellent man, a most immaculate Whig, but as simple a poor soul as ever
existed, except his editor, who has given extracts from the good
creature's diary that are very near as anile as Ashmole's. There are
thanks to God for reaching every birthday, ... and thanks to Heaven for
her Majesty's being delivered of a third or fourth prince, and _God send
he may prove a good man_.' See also Walpole's _Journal of the Reign of
George III_, i. 287. Dr. Franklin wrote much more highly of him.
Speaking of what he had done, he said:--'It is prodigious the quantity
of good that may be done by one man, _if he will make a business of
it_.' Franklin's Memoirs, ed. 1818, iii. 135.

[319] See p. 77 of this volume. BOSWELL.

[320] See _ante_, iii. 97.

[321] On April 6 of the next year this gentleman, when Secretary of the
Treasury, destroyed himself, overwhelmed, just as Cowper had been, by
the sense of the responsibility of an office which had been thrust upon
him. See Hannah More's _Memoirs_, i. 245, and Walpole's _Letters_,
viii. 206.

[322] 'It is commonly supposed that the uniformity of a studious life
affords no matter for a narration; but the truth is, that of the most
studious life a great part passes without study. An author partakes of
the common condition of humanity; he is born and married like another
man; he has hopes and fears, expectations and disappointments, griefs
and joys, and friends and enemies, like a courtier, or a statesman; nor
can I conceive why his affairs should not excite curiosity as much as
the whisper of a drawing-room or the factions of a camp.' _The
Idler_, No. 102.

[323] Hannah More wrote of this day (_Memoirs_, i. 212):--'I accused Dr.
Johnson of not having done justice to the _Allegro_ and _Penseroso_. He
spoke disparagingly of both. I praised _Lycidas_, which he absolutely
abused, adding, "if Milton had not written the _Paradise Lost_, he would
have only ranked among the minor Poets. He was a Phidias that could cut
a Colossus out of a rock, but could not cut heads out of
cherry-stones."' See _post_, June 13, 1784. The _Allegro_ and
_Penseroso_ Johnson described as 'two noble efforts of imagination.' Of
_Lycidas_ he wrote:--'Surely no man could have fancied that he read it
with pleasure, had he not known the author.' _Works_, vii. 121, 2.

[324] Murphy (_Life of Garrick_, p. 374) says 'Shortly after Garrick's
death Johnson was told in a large company, "You are recent from the
_Lives of the Poets_; why not add your friend Garrick to the number?"
Johnson's answer was, "I do not like to be officious; but if Mrs.
Garrick will desire me to do it, I shall be very willing to pay that
last tribute to the memory of a man I loved." 'Murphy adds that he
himself took care that Mrs. Garrick was informed of what Johnson had
said, but that no answer was ever received.

[325] Miss Burney wrote in May:--'Dr. Johnson was charming, both in
spirits and humour. I really think he grows gayer and gayer daily, and
more _ductile_ and pleasant.' In June she wrote:--'I found him in
admirable good-humour, and our journey [to Streatham] was extremely
pleasant. I thanked him for the last batch of his poets, and we talked
them over almost all the way.' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, ii. 23, 44.
Beattie, a week or two later, wrote:--'Johnson grows in grace as he
grows in years. He not only has better health and a fresher complexion
than ever he had before (at least since I knew him), but he has
contracted a gentleness of manner which pleases everybody.' Beattie's
_Life_, ed. 1824, p. 289.

[326] See _ante_, iii. 65. Wilkes was by this time City Chamberlain. 'I
think I see him at this moment,' said Rogers (_Table-Talk_, p. 43),
'walking through the crowded streets of the city, as Chamberlain, on his
way to Guildhall, in a scarlet coat, military boots, and a bag-wig--the
hackney-coachmen in vain calling out to him, "A coach, your honour."'

[327] See _ante_, ii. 201, for Beattie's _Essay on Truth_.

[328] Thurot, in the winter of 1759-60, with a small squadron made
descents on some of the Hebrides and on the north-eastern coast of
Ireland. In a sea fight off Ireland he was killed and his ships were
taken. _Gent. Mag_. xxx. 107. Horace Walpole says that in the alarm
raised by him in Ireland, 'the bankers there stopped payment.' _Memoirs
of the Reign of George II_, iii. 224.


     'Some for renown on scraps of learning doat,
      And think they grow immortal as they quote.'

Young's _Love of Fame_, sat. i. Cumberland (_Memoirs_, ii. 226) says
that Mr. Dilly, speaking of 'the profusion of quotations which some
writers affectedly make use of, observed that he knew a Presbyterian
parson who, for eighteenpence, would furnish any pamphleteer with as
many scraps of Greek and Latin as would pass him off for an
accomplished classic.'

[330] Cowley was quite out of fashion. Richardson (_Corres._ ii. 229)
wrote more than thirty years earlier:--'I wonder Cowley is so absolutely
neglected.' Pope, a dozen years or so before Richardson, asked,

     'Who now reads Cowley? if he pleases yet,
      His moral pleases, not his pointed wit.'

_Imitations of Horace_, Epis. ii. i. 75.

[331] See _ante_, ii. 58, and iii. 276.

[332] 'There was a club held at the King's Head in Pall Mall that
arrogantly called itself The World. Lord Stanhope (now Lord
Chesterfield) was a member. Epigrams were proposed to be written on the
glasses by each member after dinner. Once when Dr. Young was invited
thither, the doctor would have declined writing because he had no
diamond, Lord Stanhope lent him his, and he wrote immediately--

     "_Accept_ a miracle," &c.'

Spence's _Anecdotes_, p. 377. Dr. Maty (_Memoirs of Chesterfield_, i.
227) assigns the lines to Pope, and lays the scene at Lord Cobham's.
Spence, however, gives Young himself as his authority.

[333] 'Aug. 1778. "I wonder," said Mrs. Thrale, "you bear with my
nonsense." "No, madam, you never talk nonsense; you have as much sense
and more wit than any woman I know." "Oh," cried Mrs. Thrale, blushing,
"it is my turn to go under the table this morning, Miss Burney." "And
yet," continued the doctor, with the most comical look, "I have known
all the wits from Mrs. Montagu down to Bet Flint." "Bet Flint!" cried
Mrs. Thrale. "Pray, who is she?" "Oh, a fine character, madam. She was
habitually a slut and a drunkard, and occasionally a thief and a
harlot.... Mrs. Williams," he added, "did not love Bet Flint, but Bet
Flint made herself very easy about that."' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_,
i. 87, 90.

[334] Johnson, whose memory was wonderfully retentive [see _ante_, i.
39], remembered the first four lines of this curious production, which
have been communicated to me by a young lady of his acquaintance:--

     'When first I drew my vital breath,
     A little minikin I came upon
     And then I came from a dark
     Into this gay and gaudy world.'

[335] The _Sessional Reports of the Old Bailey Trials_ for 1758, p. 278,
contain a report of the trial. The Chief Justice Willes was in the
Commission, but, according to the _Report_, it was before the Recorder
that Bet Flint was tried. It may easily be, however, that either the
reporter or the printer has blundered. It is only by the characters *
and ‡ that the trials before the Chief Justice and the Recorder are
distinguished. Bet had stolen not only the counterpane, but five other
articles. The prosecutrix could not prove that the articles were hers,
and not a captain's, whose servant she said she had been, and who was
now abroad. On this ground the prisoner was acquitted. Of Chief Justice
Willes, Horace Walpole writes:--'He was not wont to disguise any of his
passions. That for gaming was notorious; for women unbounded.' He
relates an anecdote of his wit and licentiousness. Walpole's _Reign of
George II_, i. 89. He had been Johnson's schoolfellow (_ante_, i. 45).

[336] Burke is meant. See _ante_, ii. 131, where Johnson said that Burke
spoke too familiarly; and _post_, May 15, 1784, where he said that 'when
Burke lets himself down to jocularity he is in the kennel.'

[337] Wilkes imperfectly recalled to mind the following passage in
Plutarch:--'[Greek: Euphranor ton Thaesea ton heatou to Parrhasiou
parebale, legon tor men ekeinou hroda bebrokenai, tor de eautou krea
boeia.]' 'Euphranor, comparing his own Theseus with Parrhasius's, said
that Parrhasius's had fed on roses, but his on beef.' _Plutarch_, ed.
1839, iii. 423.

[338] Portugal, receiving from Brazil more gold than it needed for home
uses, shipped a large quantity to England. It was said, though probably
with exaggeration, that the weekly packet-boat from Lisbon, brought one
week with another, more than £50,000 in gold to England. Smith's _Wealth
of Nations_, book iv. ch. 6. Portugal pieces were current in our
colonies, and no doubt were commonly sent to them from London. It was
natural therefore that they should be selected for this legal fiction.

[339] See _ante_, ii. III.

[340] 'Whenever the whole of our foreign trade and consumption exceeds
our exportation of commodities, our money must go to pay our debts so
contracted, whether melted or not melted down. If the law makes the
exportation of our coin penal, it will be melted down; if it leaves the
exportation of our coin free, as in Holland, it will be carried out in
specie. One way or other, go it must, as we see in Spain.... Laws made
against exportation of money or bullion will be all in vain. Restraint
or liberty in that matter makes no country rich or poor.' Locke's
_Works_, ed. 1824, iv. 160.

[341] 'Nov. 14, 1779. Mr. Beauclerk has built a library in Great
Russellstreet, that reaches half way to Highgate. Everybody goes to see
it; it has put the Museum's nose quite out of joint.' Walpole's
_Letters_, vii. 273. It contained upwards of 30,000 volumes, and the
sale extended over fifty days. Two days' sale were given to the works on
divinity, including, in the words of the catalogue, 'Heterodox! et
Increduli. Angl. Freethinkers and their opponents.' _Dr. Johnson: His
Friends and His Critics_, p. 315. It sold for £5,011 (ante, in. 420,
note 4). Wilkes's own library--a large one--had been sold in 1764, in a
five days' sale, as is shewn by the _Auctioneer's Catalogue_, which is
in the Bodleian.

[342] 'Our own language has from the Reformation to the present time
been chiefly dignified and adorned by the works of our divines, who,
considered as commentators, controvertists, or preachers, have
undoubtedly left all other nations far behind them.' _The Idler_,
No. 91.

[343] Mr. Wilkes probably did not know that there is in an English
sermon the most comprehensive and lively account of that entertaining
faculty, for which he himself is so much admired. It is in Dr. Barrow's
first volume, and fourteenth sermon, _'Against foolish Talking and
Jesting.'_ My old acquaintance, the late Corbyn Morris, in his ingenious
_Essay on Wit, Humour, and Ridicule_, calls it 'a profuse description of
Wit;' but I do not see how it could be curtailed, without leaving out
some good circumstance of discrimination. As it is not generally known,
and may perhaps dispose some to read sermons, from which they may
receive real advantage, while looking only for entertainment, I shall
here subjoin it:--'But first (says the learned preacher) it may be
demanded, what the thing we speak of is? Or what this facetiousness (or
_wit_ as he calls it before) doth import? To which questions I might
reply, as Democritus did to him that asked the definition of a man,
"'Tis that which we all see and know." Any one better apprehends what it
is by acquaintance, than I can inform him by description. It is, indeed,
a thing so versatile and multiform, appearing in so many shapes, so many
postures, so many garbs, so variously apprehended by several eyes and
judgements, that it seemeth no less hard to settle a clear and certain
notion thereof, than to make a portrait of Proteus, or to define the
figure of the fleeting air. Sometimes it lieth in pat allusion to a
known story, or in seasonable application of a trivial saying, or in
forging an apposite tale; sometimes it playeth in words and phrases,
taking advantage from the ambiguity of their sense, or the affinity of
their sound: sometimes it is wrapped in a dress of humorous expression:
sometimes it lurketh under an odd similitude: sometimes it is lodged in
a sly question, in a smart answer, in a quirkish reason, in a shrewd
intimation, in cunningly diverting or cleverly retorting an objection:
sometimes it is couched in a bold scheme of speech, in a tart irony, in
a lusty hyperbole, in a startling metaphor, in a plausible reconciling
of contradictions, or in acute nonsense: sometimes a scenical
representation of persons or things, a counterfeit speech, a mimical
look or gesture, passeth for it: sometimes an affected simplicity,
sometimes a presumptuous bluntness giveth it being: sometimes it riseth
only from a lucky hitting upon what is strange: sometimes from a crafty
wresting obvious matter to the purpose. Often it consisteth in one knows
not what, and springeth up one can hardly tell how. Its ways are
unaccountable, and inexplicable; being answerable to the numberless
rovings of fancy, and windings of language. It is, in short, a manner of
speaking out of the simple and plain way, (such as reason teacheth and
proveth things by,) which by a pretty surprising uncouthness in conceit
or expression, doth affect and amuse the fancy, stirring in it some
wonder, and breeding some delight thereto. It raiseth admiration, as
signifying a nimble sagacity of apprehension, a special felicity of
invention, a vivacity of spirit, and reach of wit more than vulgar; it
seeming to argue a rare quickness of parts, that one can fetch in remote
conceits applicable; a notable skill, that he can dextrously accommodate
them to the purpose before him; together with a lively briskness of
humour, not apt to damp those sportful flashes of imagination. (Whence
in Aristotle such persons are termed [Greek: _hepidexioi_], dextrous men,
and [Greek: _eustrophoi_], men of facile or versatile manners, who can
easily turn themselves to all things, or turn all things to themselves.)
It also procureth delight, by gratifying curiosity with its rareness, as
semblance of difficulty: (as monsters, not for their beauty, but their
rarity; as juggling tricks, not for their use, but their abstruseness,
are beheld with pleasure:) by diverting the mind from its road of
serious thoughts; by instilling gaiety and airiness of spirit; by
provoking to such dispositions of spirit in way of emulation or
complaisance; and by seasoning matters, otherwise distasteful or
insipid, with an unusual and thence grateful tang.' BOSWELL. Morris's
_Essay_ was published in 1744. Hume wrote:--'Pray do you not think
that a proper dedication may atone for what is objectionable in my
Dialogues'! I am become much of my friend Corbyn Morrice's mind, who
says that he writes all his books for the sake of the dedications.' J.
H. Burton's _Hume_, ii. 147.

[344] The quarrel arose from the destruction by George II. of George
I.'s will (_ante_, ii. 342). The King of Prussia, Frederick the Great,
was George I.'s grandson. 'Vague rumours spoke of a large legacy to the
Queen of Prussia [Frederick's mother]. Of that bequest demands were
afterwards said to have been frequently and roughly made by her son, the
great King of Prussia, between whom and his uncle subsisted much
inveteracy.' Walpole's _Letters_, i. cxx.

[345] When I mentioned this to the Bishop of Killaloe, 'With the goat,'
said his Lordship. Such, however, is the engaging politeness and
pleasantry of Mr. Wilkes, and such the social good humour of the Bishop,
that when they dined together at Mr. Dilly's, where I also was, they
were mutually agreeable. BOSWELL. It was not the lion, but the leopard,
that shall lie down with the kid. _Isaiah_, xi. 6.

[346] Mr. Benjamin Stillingfleet, authour of tracts relating to natural
history, &c. BOSWELL.

[347] Mrs. Montagu, so early as 1757, wrote of Mr. Stillingfleet:--'I
assure you our philosopher is so much a man of pleasure, he has left off
his old friends and his blue stockings, and is at operas and other gay
assemblies every night.' Montagu's _Letters_, iv. 117.

[348] See _ante_, in. 293, note 5.

[349] Miss Burney thus describes her:--'She is between thirty and
forty, very short, very fat, but handsome; splendidly and fantastically
dressed, rouged not unbecomingly yet evidently, and palpably desirous of
gaining notice and admiration. She has an easy levity in her air,
manner, voice, and discourse, that speak (sic) all within to be
comfortable.... She is one of those who stand foremost in collecting all
extraordinary or curious people to her London conversaziones, which,
like those of Mrs. Vesey, mix the rank and the literature, and exclude
all beside.... Her parties are the most brilliant in town.' Miss Burney
then describes one of these parties, at which were present Johnson,
Burke, and Reynolds. 'The company in general were dressed with more
brilliancy than at any rout I ever was at, as most of them were going to
the Duchess of Cumberland's.' Miss Burney herself was 'surrounded by
strangers, all dressed superbly, and all looking saucily.... Dr. Johnson
was standing near the fire, and environed with listeners.' Mme.
D'Arblay's _Diary_, ii. 179, 186, 190. Leslie wrote of Lady Corke in
1834 (_Autobiographical Recollections_, i. 137, 243):--'Notwithstanding
her great age, she is very animated. The old lady, who was a lion-hunter
in her youth, is as much one now as ever.' She ran after a Boston negro
named Prince Saunders, who 'as he put his Christian name "Prince" on his
cards without the addition of Mr., was believed to be a native African
prince, and soon became a lion of the first magnitude in fashionable
circles.' She died in 1840.

[350] 'A lady once ventured to ask Dr. Johnson how he liked Yorick's
[Sterne's] _Sermons_. "I know nothing about them, madam," was his reply.
But some time afterwards, forgetting himself, he severely censured them.
The lady retorted:--"I understood you to say, Sir, that you had never
read them." "No, Madam, I did read them, but it was in a stage-coach; I
should not have even deigned to look at them had I been at large."
Cradock's _Memoirs_, p. 208.

[351] See _ante_, iii. 382, note 1.

[352] Next day I endeavoured to give what had happened the most
ingenious turn I could, by the following verses:--


     'Not that with th' excellent Montrose
        I had the happiness to dine;
      Not that I late from table rose,
        From Graham's wit, from generous wine.

      It was not these alone which led
        On sacred manners to encroach;
      And made me feel what most I dread,
        JOHNSON'S just frown, and self-reproach.

      But when I enter'd, not abash'd,
        From your bright eyes were shot such rays,
      At once intoxication flash'd,
        And all my frame was in a blaze.

      But not a brilliant blaze I own,
        Of the dull smoke I'm yet asham'd;
      I was a dreary ruin grown,
        And not enlighten'd though inflam'd.

      Victim at once to wine and love,
        I hope, MARIA, you'll forgive;
      While I invoke the powers above,
        That henceforth I may wiser live.'

The lady was generously forgiving, returned me an obliging answer, and I
thus obtained an _Act of Oblivion_, and took care never to offend
again. BOSWELL.

[353] See _ante_, ii. 436, and iv. 88, note I.

[354] On May 22 Horace Walpole wrote (_Letters_, viii. 44):--'Boswell,
that quintessence of busybodies, called on me last week, and was let in,
which he should not have been, could I have foreseen it. After tapping
many topics, to which I made as dry answers as an unbribed oracle, he
vented his errand. "Had I seen Dr. Johnson's _Lives of the Poets_?" I
said slightly, "No, not yet;" and so overlaid his whole impertinence.'

[355] See _ante_, iii. 1.

[356] See _ante_, ii. 47, note 2; 352, note I; and iii. 376, for
explanations of like instances of Boswell's neglect.

[357] See _ante_, i. 298, note 4.

[358] 'He owned he sometimes talked for victory.' Boswell's _Hebrides_,
opening pages.

[359] The late Right Hon. William Gerard Hamilton. MALONE.

[360] Dr. Johnson, being told of a man who was thankful for being
introduced to him, 'as he had been convinced in a long dispute that an
opinion which he had embraced as a settled truth was no better than a
vulgar error, "Nay," said he, "do not let him be thankful, for he was
right, and I was wrong." Like his Uncle Andrew in the ring at
Smithfield, Johnson, in a circle of disputants, was determined neither
to be thrown nor conquered.' Murphy's _Johnson_, p. 139. Johnson, in
_The Adventurer_, No. 85, seems to describe his own talk. He writes:--'
While the various opportunities of conversation invite us to try every
mode of argument, and every art of recommending our sentiments, we are
frequently betrayed to the use of such as are not in themselves strictly
defensible; a man heated in talk, and eager of victory, takes advantage
of the mistakes or ignorance of his adversary, lays hold of concessions
to which he knows he has no right, and urges proofs likely to prevail on
his opponent, though he knows himself that they have no force.' J. S.
Mill gives somewhat the same account of his own father. 'I am inclined
to think,' he writes, 'that he did injustice to his own opinions by the
unconscious exaggerations of an intellect emphatically polemical; and
that when thinking without an adversary in view, he was willing to make
room for a great portion of the truths he seemed to deny.' Mill's
_Autobiography_, p. 201. See also _ante_, ii. 100, 450, in. 23, 277,
331; and _post_, May 18, 1784, and Steevens's account of Johnson just
before June 22, 1784.

[361] Thomas Shaw, D.D., author of _Travels to Barbary and the Levant_.

[362] See ante, iii. 314.

[363] The friend very likely was Boswell himself. He was one of 'these
_tanti_ men.' 'I told Paoli that in the very heat of youth I felt the
_nom est tanti_, the _omnia vanitas_ of one who has exhausted all the
sweets of his being, and is weary with dull repetition. I told him that
I had almost become for ever incapable of taking a part in active life.'
Boswell's _Corsica_, ed. 1879, p. 193.

[364] _Letters on the English Nation: By Batista Angeloni, a Jesuit, who
resided many years in London. Translated from the original Italian by
the Author of the Marriage Act. A Novel_. 2 vols. London [no printer's
name given], 1755. Shebbeare published besides six _Letters to the
People of England_ in the years 1755-7, for the last of which he was
sentenced to the pillory. _Ante_, iii. 315, note I. Horace Walpole
(_Letters_, iii. 74) described him in 1757 as 'a broken Jacobite
physician, who has threatened to write himself into a place or
the pillory.'

[365] I recollect a ludicrous paragraph in the newspapers, that the King
had pensioned both a _He_-bear and a _She_-bear. BOSWELL. See _ante_,
ii. 66, and _post_, April 28, 1783.


        Witness, ye chosen train
     Who breathe the sweets of his Saturnian reign;
     Witness ye Hills, ye Johnsons, Scots, Shebbeares,
     Hark to my call, for some of you have ears.'

_Heroic Epistle_. See _post_, under June 16, 1784.

[367] In this he was unlike the King, who, writes Horace Walpole,'
expecting only an attack on Chambers, bought it to tease, and began
reading it to, him; but, finding it more bitter on himself, flung it
down on the floor in a passion, and would read no more.' _Journal of the
Reign of George III_, i. 187.

[368] They were published in 1773 in a pamphlet of 16 pages, and, with
the good fortune that attends a muse in the peerage, reached a third
edition in the year. To this same earl the second edition of Byron's
_Hours of Idleness_ was 'dedicated by his obliged ward and affectionate
kinsman, the author.' In _English Bards and Scotch Reviewers_, he is
abused in the passage which begins:--

     'No muse will cheer with renovating smile,
      The paralytic puling of Carlisle.'

In a note Byron adds:--'The Earl of Carlisle has lately published an
eighteen-penny pamphlet on the state of the stage, and offers his plan
for building a new theatre. It is to be hoped his lordship will be
permitted to bring forward anything for the stage--except his own
tragedies.' In the third canto of _Childe Harold_ Byron makes amends. In
writing of the death of Lord Carlisle's youngest son at Waterloo,
he says:--

     'Their praise is hymn'd by loftier harps than mine;
      Yet one I would select from that proud throng,
      Partly because they blend me with his line,
      And partly that I did his Sire some wrong.'

For his lordship's tragedy see _post_, under Nov. 19, 1783.

[369] Men of rank and fortune, however, should be pretty well assured of
having a real claim to the approbation of the publick, as writers,
before they venture to stand forth. Dryden, in his preface to _All for
Love_, thus expresses himself:--

'Men of pleasant conversation (at least esteemed so) and endued with a
trifling kind of fancy, perhaps helped out by [with] a smattering of
Latin, are ambitious to distinguish themselves from the herd of
gentlemen, by their poetry:

     _"Rarus enim fermè sensus communis in ilia
             Fortuna,"----[Juvenal_, viii. 73.]

And is not this a wretched affectation, not to be contented with what
fortune has done for them, and sit down quietly with their estates, but
they must call their wits in question, and needlessly expose their
nakedness to publick view? Not considering that they are not to expect
the same approbation from sober men, which they have found from their
flatterers after the third bottle: If a little glittering in discourse
has passed them on us for witty men, where was the necessity of
undeceiving the world? Would a man who has an ill title to an estate,
but yet is in possession of it, would he bring it of his own accord to
be tried at Westminster? We who write, if we want the talents [talent],
yet have the excuse that we do it for a poor subsistence; but what can
be urged in their defence, who, not having the vocation of poverty to
scribble, out of mere wantonness take pains to make themselves
ridiculous? Horace was certainly in the right where he said, "That no
man is satisfied with his own condition." A poet is not pleased, because
he is not rich; and the rich are discontented because the poets will not
admit them of their number.' BOSWELL. Boswell, it should seem, had
followed Swift's advice:--

     'Read all the prefaces of Dryden,
      For these our critics much confide in;
      Though merely writ at first for filling,
      To raise the volume's price a shilling.'

Swift's _Works_, ed. 1803, xi. 293.

[370] See _ante_, i. 402.

[371] Wordsworth, it should seem, held with Johnson in this. When he
read the article in the _Edinburgh Review_ on Lord Byron's early poems,
he remarked that 'though Byron's verses were probably poor enough, yet
such an attack was abominable,--that a young nobleman, who took to
poetry, deserved to be encouraged, not ridiculed.' Rogers's
_Table-Talk_, p. 234, note.

[372] Dr. Barnard, formerly Dean of Derry. See _ante_, iii. 84.

[373] This gave me very great pleasure, for there had been once a pretty
smart altercation between Dr. Barnard and him, upon a question, whether
a man could improve himself after the age of forty-five; when Johnson in
a hasty humour, expressed himself in a manner not quite civil. Dr.
Barnard made it the subject of a copy of pleasant verses, in which he
supposed himself to learn different perfections from different men. They
concluded with delicate irony:--

     'Johnson shall teach me how to place
      In fairest light each borrow'd grace;
        From him I'll learn to write;
      Copy his clear familiar style,
      And by the roughness of his file
        Grow, like _himself, polite_.'

I know not whether Johnson ever saw the poem, but I had occasion to find
that as Dr. Barnard and he knew each other better, their mutual regard
increased. BOSWELL. See Appendix A.

[374] See _ante_, ii. 357, iii. 309, and _post_, March 23, 1783.

[375] 'Sir Joshua once asked Lord B---- to dine with Dr. Johnson and the
rest, but though a man of rank and also of good information, he seemed
as much alarmed at the idea as if you had tried to force him into one of
the cages at Exeter-Change.' Hazlitt's _Conversations of Northcote_,
p. 41.

[376] Yet when he came across them he met with much respect. At Alnwick
he was, he writes, 'treated with great civility by the Duke of
Northumberland.' _Piozzi Letters_, i. 108. At Inverary, the Duke and
Duchess of Argyle shewed him great attention. Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct.
25. In fact, all through his Scotch tour he was most politely welcomed
by 'the great.' At Chatsworth, he was 'honestly pressed to stay' by the
Duke and Duchess of Devonshire (_post_, Sept. 9, 1784). See _ante_, iii.
21. On the other hand, Mrs. Barbauld says:--'I believe it is true that
in England genius and learning obtain less personal notice than in most
other parts of Europe.' She censures 'the contemptuous manner in which
Lady Wortley Montagu mentioned Richardson:--"The doors of the Great,"
she says, "were never opened to him."' _Richardson Corres._ i. clxxiv.

[377] When Lord Elibank was seventy years old, he wrote:--'I shall be
glad to go five hundred miles to enjoy a day of his company.' Boswell's
_Hebrides_, Sept. 12.

[378] _Romans_, x. 2.

[379] I _Peter_, iii. 15.

[380] Horace Walpole wrote three years earlier:--' Whig principles are
founded on sense; a Whig may be a fool, a Tory must be so.'
_Letters_, vii. 88.

[381] Mr. Barclay, a descendant of Robert Barclay, of Ury, the
celebrated apologist of the people called Quakers, and remarkable for
maintaining the principles of his venerable progenitor, with as much of
the elegance of modern manners, as is consistent with primitive
simplicity, BOSWELL.

[382] Now Bishop of Llandaff, one of the _poorest_ Bishopricks in this
kingdom. His Lordship has written with much zeal to show the propriety
of _equalizing_ the revenues of Bishops. He has informed us that he has
burnt all his chemical papers. The friends of our excellent
constitution, now assailed on every side by innovators and levellers,
would have less regretted the suppression of some of this Lordship's
other writings. BOSWELL. Boswell refers to _A Letter to the Archbishop
of Canterbury by Richard, Lord Bishop of Landaff_, 1782. If the revenues
were made more equal, 'the poorer Bishops,' the Bishop writes, 'would be
freed from the necessity of holding ecclesiastical preferments _in
commendam_ with their Bishopricks,' p. 8.

[383] De Quincey says that Sir Humphry Davy told him, 'that he could
scarcely imagine a time, or a condition of the science, in which the
Bishop's _Essays_ would be superannuated.' De Quincey's _Works_, ii.
106. De Quincey describes the Bishop as being 'always a discontented
man, a railer at the government and the age, which could permit such as
his to pine away ingloriously in one of the humblest among the
Bishopricks.' _Ib_. p. 107. He was, he adds, 'a true Whig,' and would
have been made Archbishop of York had his party staid in power a little
longer in 1807.'

[384] _Rasselas_, chap. xi.

[385] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 30.

[386] 'They heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden.'
_Genesis_, iii. 8.


     ... 'Vivendi recte qui prorogat horam,
     Rusticus expectat dum defluat amnis; at ille
     Labitur et labetur in omne volubilis aevum.'

     'And sure the man who has it in his power
      To practise virtue, and protracts the hour,
      Waits like the rustic till the river dried;
      Still glides the river, and will ever glide.'

FRANCIS. Horace, _Epist_. i. 2. 41.

[388] See _ante_, p. 59.

[389] See _ante_, iii. 251.

[390] See _ante_, iii. 136.

[391] This assertion is disproved by a comparison of dates. The first
four satires of Young were published in 1725; The South Sea scheme
(which appears to be meant,) was in 1720. MALONE. In Croft's _Life of
Young_, which Johnson adopted, it is stated:--'By the _Universal
Passion_ he acquired no vulgar fortune, more than £3000. A considerable
sum had already been swallowed up in the South Sea.' Johnson's _Works_,
viii. 430. Some of Young's poems were published before 1720.

[392] Crabbe got Johnson to revise his poem, _The Village_ (_post_,
under March 23, 1783). He states, that 'the Doctor did not readily
comply with requests for his opinion; not from any unwillingness to
oblige, but from a painful contention in his mind between a desire of
giving pleasure and a determination to speak truth.' Crabbe's _Works_,
ii. 12. See _ante_, ii. 51, 195, and iii. 373.

[393] Pope's _Essay on Man_, iv. 390. See _ante_, iii. 6, note 2.

[394] He had within the last seven weeks gone up drunk, at least twice,
to a lady's drawing-room. _Ante_, pp. 88, note 1, and 109.

[395] Mr. Croker, though without any authority, prints _unconscious_.

[396] I Corinthians, ix. 27. See _ante_, 295.

[397] 'We walk by faith, not by sight.' 2 Corinthians, v. 7

[398] Dr. Ogden, in his second sermon _On the Articles of the Christian
Faith_, with admirable acuteness thus addresses the opposers of that
Doctrine, which accounts for the confusion, sin and misery, which we
find in this life: 'It would be severe in GOD, you think, to _degrade_
us to such a sad state as this, for the offence of our first parents:
but you can allow him to _place_ us in it without any inducement. Are
our calamities lessened for not being ascribed to Adam? If your
condition be unhappy, is it not still unhappy, whatever was the
occasion? with the aggravation of this reflection, that if it was as
good as it was at first designed, there seems to be somewhat the less
reason to look for its amendment.' BOSWELL.

[399] 'Which taketh away the sin' &c. St. John, i. 29.

[400] See Boswell's Hebrides, August 22.

[401] This unfortunate person, whose full name was Thomas Fysche Palmer,
afterwards went to Dundee, in Scotland, where he officiated as minister
to a congregation of the sect who called themselves _Unitarians_, from a
notion that they distinctively worship ONE GOD, because they _deny_ the
mysterious doctrine of the TRINITY. They do not advert that the great
body of the Christian Church, in maintaining that mystery, maintain also
the _Unity_ of the GODHEAD; the 'TRINITY in UNITY!--three persons and
ONE GOD.' The Church humbly adores the DIVINITY as exhibited in the holy
Scriptures. The Unitarian sect vainly presumes to comprehend and define
the ALMIGHTY. Mr. Palmer having heated his mind with political
speculations, became so much dissatisfied with our excellent
Constitution, as to compose, publish, and circulate writings, which were
found to be so seditious and dangerous, that upon being found guilty by
a Jury, the Court of Justiciary in Scotland sentenced him to
transportation for fourteen years. A loud clamour against this sentence
was made by some Members of both Houses of Parliament; but both Houses
approved of it by a great majority; and he was conveyed to the
settlement for convicts in New South Wales. BOSWELL. This note first
appears in the third edition. Mr. Palmer was sentenced to seven (not
fourteen) years transportation in Aug. 1793. It was his fellow prisoner,
Mr. Muir, an advocate, who was sentenced to fourteen years. _Ann. Reg._
1793, p. 40. When these sentences were brought before the House of
Commons, Mr. Fox said that it was 'the Lord-Advocate's fervent wish that
his native principles of justice should be introduced into this country;
and that on the ruins of the common law of England should be erected the
infamous fabric of Scottish persecution. ... If that day should ever
arrive, if the tyrannical laws of Scotland should ever be introduced in
opposition to the humane laws of England, it would then be high time for
my hon. friends and myself to settle our affairs, and retire to some
happier clime, where we might at least enjoy those rights which God has
given to man, and which his nature tells him he has a right to demand.'
_Parl. Hist._ xxx. 1563. For _Unitarians_, see _ante_, ii. 408, note I.

[402] Taken from Herodotus. [Bk. ii. ch. 104.] BOSWELL.

[403] 'The mummies,' says Blakesley, 'have straight hair, and in the
paintings the Egyptians are represented as red, not black.' _Ib_. note.

[404] See _ante_, i. 441, and _post_, March 28, and June 3, 1782.

[405] Mr. Dawkins visited Palmyra in 1751. He had 'an escort of the Aga
of Hassia's best Arab horsemen.' Johnson was perhaps astonished at the
size of their caravan, 'which was increased to about 200 persons.' The
writer treats the whole matter with great brevity. Wood's _Ruins of
Palmyra_, p. 33. On their return the travellers discovered a party of
Arab horsemen, who gave them an alarm. Happily these Arabs were still
more afraid of them, and were at once plundered by the escort, 'who
laughed at our remonstrances against their injustice.' Wood's _Ruins of
Balbec_, p. 2.

[406] He wrote a _Life of Watts_, which Johnson quoted. _Works_, viii.

[407] See _ante_, iii. 422, note 6.

[408] In the first two editions _formal_.

[409] Johnson maintains this in _The Idler_, No. 74. 'Few,' he says,
'have reason to complain of nature as unkindly sparing of the gifts of
memory ... The true art of memory is the art of attention.' See
_ante_, iii. 191.

[410]The first of the definitions given by Johnson of _to remember_ is
_to bear in mind anything; not to forget. To recollect_ he defines _to
recover to memory_. We may, perhaps, assume that Boswell said, 'I did
not recollect that the chair was broken;' and that Johnson replied, 'you
mean, you did not remember. That you did not remember is your own fault.
It was in your mind that it was broken, and therefore you ought to have
remembered it. It was not a case of recollecting; for we recollect, that
is, recover to memory, what is not in our mind.' In the passage _ante_,
i. 112, which begins, 'I indeed doubt if he could have remembered,' we
find in the first two editions not _remembered_, but _recollected_.
Perhaps this change is due to euphony, as _collected_ comes a few lines
before. Horace Walpole, in one of his _Letters_ (i. 15), distinguishes
the two words, on his revisiting his old school, Eton:--'By the way, the
clock strikes the old cracked sound--I recollect so much, and remember
so little.'

[411] He made the same boast at St. Andrews. See Boswell's _Hebrides_,
Aug. 19. He was, I believe, speaking of his translation of Courayer's
_Life of Paul Sarpi and Notes_, of which some sheets were printed off.
_Ante_, i. 135.

[412] Horace Walpole, after mentioning that George III's mother, who
died in 1772, left but £27,000 when she was reckoned worth at least
£300,000, adds:--'It is no wonder that it became the universal belief
that she had wasted all on Lord Bute. This became still more probable as
he had made the purchase of the estate at Luton, at the price of
£114,000, before he was visibly worth £20,000; had built a palace there,
another in town, and had furnished the former in the most expensive
manner, bought pictures and books, and made a vast park and lake.'
_Journal of the Reign of George III_, i. 19.

[413] To him Boswell dedicated his _Thesis_ as _excelsae familiae de
Bute spei alterae_ (_ante_, ii. 20). In 1775, he wrote of him:--'He is
warmly my friend and has engaged to do for me.' _Letters of Boswell_,
p. 186

[414] He was mistaken in this. See _ante_, i. 260; also iii. 420.

[415] In England in like manner, and perhaps for the same reason, all
Attorneys have been converted into Solicitors.

[416] 'There is at Edinburgh a society or corporation of errand boys,
called Cawdies, who ply in the streets at night with paper lanthorns,
and are very serviceable in carrying messages.' _Humphrey Clinker_.
Letter of Aug. 8.

[417] Their services in this sense are noticed in the same letter.


     'The formal process shall be turned to sport,
     And you dismissed with honour by the Court.'
     FRANCIS. Horace, _Satires_, ii.i.86.

[419] Mr. Robertson altered this word to _jocandi_, he having found in
Blackstone that to irritate is actionable. BOSWELL.

[420] Quoted by Johnson, _ante_, ii. l97.

[421] His god-daughter. See _post_ May 10, 1784.

[422] See _post_, under Dec. 20, 1782

[423] See _ante_, i. 155

[424] The will of King Alfred, alluded to in this letter, from the
original Saxon, in the library of Mr. Astle, has been printed at the
expense of the University of Oxford. BOSWELL.

[425] He was a surgeon in this small Norfolk town. Dr. Burney's
_Memoirs_, i. 106.

[426] Burney visited Johnson first in 1758, when he was living in Gough
Square. _Ante_, i. 328.

[427] Mme. D'Arblay says that Dr. Johnson sent them to Dr. Burney's
house, directed 'For the Broom Gentleman.' Dr. Burney's _Memoirs_,
ii. 180.

[428] 'Sept. 14, 1781. Dr. Johnson has been very unwell indeed. Once I
was quite frightened about him; but he continues his strange
discipline--starving, mercury, opium; and though for a time half
demolished by its severity, he always in the end rises superior both to
the disease and the remedy, which commonly is the most alarming of the
two.' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, ii. 107. On Sept. 18, his birthday, he
wrote:--'As I came home [from church], I thought I had never begun any
period of life so placidly. I have always been accustomed to let this
day pass unnoticed, but it came this time into my mind that some little
festivity was not improper. I had a dinner, and invited Allen and
Levett.' _Pr. and Med._ p. 199.

[429] This remark, I have no doubt, is aimed at Hawkins, who (_Life_, p.
553) pretends to account for this trip.

[430] _Pr. and Med._ p. 201. BOSWELL.

[431] He wrote from Lichfield on the previous Oct. 27:--'All here is
gloomy; a faint struggle with the tediousness of time; a doleful
confession of present misery, and the approach seen and felt of what is
most dreaded and most shunned. But such is the lot of man.' _Piozzi
Letters_, ii. 209.

[432] The truth of this has been proved by sad experience. BOSWELL. Mrs.
Boswell died June 4, 1789. MALONE.

[433] See account of him in the _Gent. Mag_. Feb. 1785. BOSWELL, see
ante, i. 243, note 3.

[434] Mrs. Piozzi (_Synonymy_, ii. 79), quoting this verse, under
_Officious_, says;--'Johnson, always thinking neglect the worst
misfortune that could befall a man, looked on a character of this
description with less aversion than I do.'


     'Content thyself to be _obscurely good_.'

Addisons _Cato_, act. iv. sc. 4.

[436] In both editions of Sir John Hawkins's _Life of Dr. Johnson_,
'letter'd _ignorance_' is printed. BOSWELL. Mr. Croker (_Boswell_, p. I)
says that 'Mr. Boswell is habitually unjust to Sir J. Hawkins.' As some
kind of balance, I suppose, to this injustice, he suppresses this note.

[437] Johnson repeated this line to me thus:--

     'And Labour steals an hour to die.'

But he afterwards altered it to the present reading. BOSWELL. This poem
is printed in the _Ann. Reg_. for 1783, p. 189, with the following
variations:--l. 18, for 'ready help' 'useful care': l. 28, 'His single
talent,' 'The single talent'; l. 33, 'no throbs of fiery pain,' 'no
throbbing fiery pain'; l. 36, 'and freed,' 'and forced.' On the next
page it is printed _John Gilpin_.

[438] Mr. Croker says that this line shows that 'some of Gray's happy
expressions lingered in Johnson's memory' He quotes a line that comes at
the end of the _Ode on Vicissitude_--'From busy day, the peaceful
night.' This line is not Gray's, but Mason's.

[439] Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale on Aug. 14, 1780:--'If you want
events, Here is Mr. Levett just come in at fourscore from a walk to
Hampstead, eight miles, in August.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 177.

[440] In the original, _March_ 20. On the afternoon of March 20 Lord
North announced in the House of Commons 'that his Majesty's Ministers
were no more.' _Parl. Hist_. xxii. 1215.

[441] _Pr. and Med_. p. 209 [207]. BOSWELL.

[442] See _ante_, ii. 355, iii. 46, iv. 81, 100. Mr. Seward records in
his _Biographiana_, p. 600--without however giving the year--that
'Johnson being asked what the Opposition meant by their flaming speeches
and violent pamphlets against Lord North's administration, answered:
"They mean, Sir, rebellion; they mean in spite to destroy that country
which they are not permitted to govern."'

[443] In the previous December the City of London in an address, writes
Horace Walpole, 'besought the King to remove both his public and
_private_ counsellors, and used these stunning and memorable
words:--_"Your armies are captured; the wonted superiority of your
navies is annihilated, your dominions are lost."_ Words that could be
used to no other King; no King had ever lost so much without losing all.
If James II. lost his crown, yet the crown lost no dominions.' _Journal
of the Reign of George III_, ii. 483. The address is given in the _Ann.
Reg._ xxiv. 320. On Aug. 4 of this year Johnson wrote to Dr.
Taylor:--'Perhaps no nation not absolutely conquered has declined so
much in so short a time. We seem to be sinking. Suppose the Irish,
having already gotten a free trade and an independent Parliament, should
say we will have a King and ally ourselves with the House of Bourbon,
what could be done to hinder or overthrow them?' Mr. Morrison's
_Autographs_, vol. ii.

[444] In February and March, 1771, the House of Commons ordered eight
printers to attend at the bar on a charge of breach of privilege, in
publishing reports of debates. One of the eight, Miller of the _Evening
Post_, when the messenger of the House tried to arrest him, gave the man
himself into custody on a charge of assault. The messenger was brought
before Lord Mayor Crosby and Aldermen Wilkes and Oliver, and a warrant
was made out for his commitment. Bail was thereupon offered and accepted
for his appearance at the next sessions. The Lord Mayor and Oliver were
sent to the Tower by the House. Wilkes was ordered to appear on April 8;
but the Ministry, not daring to face his appearance, adjourned the House
till the 9th. A committee was appointed by ballot to inquire into the
late obstructions to the execution of the orders of the House. It
recommended the consideration of the expediency of the House ordering
that Miller should be taken into custody. The report, when read, was
received with a roar of laughter. Nothing was done. Such was, to quote
the words of Burke in the _Annual Register_ (xiv. 70), 'the miserable
result of all the pretended vigour of the Ministry.' See _Parl. Hist._
xvii. 58, 186.

[445] Lord Cornwallis's army surrendered at York Town, five days before
Sir Henry Clinton's fleet and army arrived off the Chesapeak. _Ann.
Reg._ xxiv. 136.

[446] Johnson wrote on March 30:--'The men have got in whom I have
endeavoured to keep out; but I hope they will do better than their
predecessors; it will not be easy to do worse.' Croker's _Boswell_,
p. 706.

[447] This note was in answer to one which accompanied one of the
earliest pamphlets on the subject of Chatterton's forgery, entitled
_Cursory Observations on the Poems attributed to Thomas Rowley_, &c. Mr.
Thomas Warton's very able _Inquiry_ appeared about three months
afterwards; and Mr. Tyrwhitt's admirable _Vindication of his Appendix_
in the summer of the same hear, left the believers in this daring
imposture nothing but 'the resolution to say again what had been said
before.' MALONE.

[448] _Pr. and Med._ p. 207. BOSWELL.

[449] He addressed to him an Ode in Latin, entitled _Ad Thomam Laurence,
medicum doctissimum, quum filium peregre agentem desiderio nimis tristi
prosequeretur. Works_, i. 165.

[450] Mr. Holder, in the Strand, Dr. Johnson's apothecary. BOSWELL.

[451] 'Johnson should rather have written "imperatum est." But the
meaning of the words is perfectly clear. "If you say yes, the messenger
has orders to bring Holder to me." Mr. Croker translates the words as
follows:-"If you consent, pray tell the messenger to bring Holder to
me." If Mr. Croker is resolved to write on points of classical learning,
we would advise him to begin by giving an hour every morning to our old
friend Corderius.' Macaulay's _Essays_, ed. 1843, i 366. In _The Answers
to Mr. Macaulay's Criticism_, prefixed to Croker's _Boswell_, p. 13, it
is suggested that Johnson wrote either _imperetur_ or _imperator_. The
letter may be translated: 'A fresh chill, a fresh cough, and a fresh
difficulty in breathing call for a fresh letting of blood. Without your
advice, however, I would not submit to the operation. I cannot well come
to you, nor need you come to me. Say yes or no in one word, and leave
the rest to Holder and to me. If you say yes, let the messenger be
bidden (imperetur) to bring Holder to me. May 1, 1782. When _you_ have
left, whither shall I turn?'

[452] Soon after the above letter, Dr. Lawrence left London, but not
before the palsy had made so great a progress as to render him unable to
write for himself. The folio wing are extracts from letters addressed by
Dr. Johnson to one of his daughters:--

'You will easily believe with what gladness I read that you had heard
once again that voice to which we have all so often delighted to attend.
May you often hear it. If we had his mind, and his tongue, we could
spare the rest.

'I am not vigorous, but much better than when dear Dr. Lawrence held my
pulse the last time. Be so kind as to let me know, from one little
interval to another, the state of his body. I am pleased that he
remembers me, and hope that it never can be possible for me to forget
him. July 22, 1782.'

'I am much delighted even with the small advances which dear Dr.
Lawrence makes towards recovery. If we could have again but his mind,
and his tongue in his mind, and his right hand, we should not much
lament the rest. I should not despair of helping the swelled hand by
electricity, if it were frequently and diligently supplied.

'Let me know from time to time whatever happens; and I hope I need not
tell you, how much I am interested in every change. Aug. 26, 1782.'

'Though the account with which you favoured me in your last letter could
not give me the pleasure that I wished, yet I was glad to receive it;
for my affection to my dear friend makes me desirous of knowing his
state, whatever it be. I beg, therefore, that you continue to let me
know, from time to time, all that you observe.

'Many fits of severe illness have, for about three months past, forced
my kind physician often upon my mind. I am now better; and hope
gratitude, as well as distress, can be a motive to remembrance.
Bolt-court, Fleet-street, Feb. 4, 1783.' BOSWELL.

[453] Mr. Langton being at this time on duty at Rochester, he is
addressed by his military title. BOSWELL.

[454] Eight days later he recorded:--'I have in ten days written to
Aston, Lucy, Hector, Langton, Boswell; perhaps to all by whom my letters
are desired.' _Pr. and Med._ 209. He had written also to Mrs. Thrale,
but her affection, it should seem from this, he was beginning to doubt.

[455] See _ante_, p. 84.

[456] See _ante_, i. 247.

[457] See _post_, p. 158, note 4.

[458] Johnson has here expressed a sentiment similar to that contained
in one of Shenstone's stanzas, to which, in his life of that poet, he
has given high praise:--

     'I prized every hour that went by,
     Beyond all that had pleased me before;
     But now they are gone [past] and I sigh,
     I grieve that I prized them no more.'


[459] She was his god-daughter. See _post_, May 10, 1784.

[460] 'Dr. Johnson gave a very droll account of the children of Mr.
Langton, "who," he said, "might be very good children, if they were let
alone; but the father is never easy when he is not making them do
something which they cannot do; they must repeat a fable, or a speech,
or the Hebrew alphabet, and they might as well count twenty for what
they know of the matter; however, the father says half, for he prompts
every other word."' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, i. 73. See _ante_, p.
20, note 2.

[461] A part of this letter having been torn off, I have, from the
evident meaning, supplied a few words and half-words at the ends and
beginnings of lines. BOSWELL.

[462] See vol. ii. p. 459. BOSWELL. She was Hector's widowed sister, and
Johnson's first love. In the previous October, writing of a visit to
Birmingham, he said:--'Mrs. Careless took me under her care, and told me
when I had tea enough.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 205.

[463] This letter cannot belong to this year. In it Johnson says of his
health, 'at least it is not worse.' But 1782 found him in very bad
health; he passed almost the whole of the year 'in a succession of
disorders' (_post_, p. 156). What he says of friendship renders it
almost certain that the letter was written while he had still Thrale;
and him he lost in April, 1781. Had it been written after June, 1779,
but before Thrale's death, the account given of health would have been
even better than it is (_ante_, iii. 397). It belongs perhaps to the
year 1777 or 1778.

[464] 'To a man who has survived all the companions of his youth ...
this full-peopled world is a dismal solitude.' _Rambler_, No. 69.

[465] See _ante_, i. 63.

[466] They met on these days in the years 1772, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 81, and

[467] The ministry had resigned on the 20th. _Ante_, p. 139, note 1.

[468] Thirty-two years earlier he wrote in _The Rambler_, No. 53:-'In
the prospect of poverty there is nothing but gloom and melancholy; the
mind and body suffer together; its miseries bring no alleviation; it is
a state in which every virtue is obscured, and in which no conduct can
avoid reproach.' And again in No. 57:--'The prospect of penury in age is
so gloomy and terrifying, that every man who looks before him must
resolve to avoid it; and it must be avoided generally by the science of
sparing.' See _ante_. 441.

[469] See _ante_, p. 128.

[470] Hannah More wrote in April of this year (_Memoirs_, i.
249):--'Poor Johnson is in a bad state of health. I fear his
constitution is broken up.' (Yet in one week he dined out four times.
_Piozzi Letters_, ii. 237.) At one of these dinners, 'I urged him,' she
continues (_ib_. p. 251) 'to take a _little_ wine. He replied, "I can't
drink a _little_, child; therefore, I never touch it. Abstinence is as
easy to me as temperance would be difficult." He was very good-humoured
and gay. One of the company happened to say a word about poetry, "Hush,
hush," said he, "it is dangerous to say a word of poetry before her; it
is talking of the art of war before Hannibal."'

[471] This book was published in 1781, and, according to Lowndes,
reached its seventh edition by 1787. See _ante_, i. 214.

[472] The clergyman's letter was dated May 4. _Gent. Mag._ 1786, p. 93.
Johnson is explaining the reason of his delay in acknowledging it.

[473] What follows appeared in the _Morning Chronicle_ of May 29,
1782:--'A correspondent having mentioned, in the _Morning Chronicle_ of
December 12, the last clause of the following paragraph, as seeming to
favour suicide; we are requested to print the whole passage, that its
true meaning may appear, which is not to recommend suicide but exercise.

'Exercise cannot secure us from that dissolution to which we are
decreed: but while the soul and body continue united, it can make the
association pleasing, and give probable hopes that they shall be
disjoined by an easy separation. It was a principle among the ancients,
that acute diseases are from Heaven, and chronical from ourselves; the
dart of death, indeed, falls from Heaven, but we poison it by our own
misconduct: to die is the fate of man; but to die with lingering anguish
is generally his folly.' [_The Rambler_, No. 85.] BOSWELL.

[474] The Correspondence may be seen at length in the _Gent. Mag._ Feb.
1786. BOSWELL. Johnson, advising Dr. Taylor 'to take as much exercise as
he can bear,' says:-'I take the true definition of exercise to be labour
without weariness.' _Notes and Queries_, 6th S. v. 461.

[475] Here he met Hannah More. 'You cannot imagine,' she writes
(_Memoirs_, i. 261), 'with what delight he showed me every part of his
own college. Dr. Adams had contrived a very pretty piece of gallantry.
We spent the day and evening at his house. After dinner, Johnson begged
to conduct me to see the College; he would let no one show it me but
himself. "This was my room; this Shenstone's." Then, after pointing out
all the rooms of the poets who had been of his college, "In short," said
he, "we were a nest of singing-birds." When we came into the
common-room, we spied a fine large print of Johnson, hung up that very
morning, with this motto:--_And is not Johnson ours, himself a host?_
Under which stared you in the face--_From Miss More's "Sensibility_."
This little incident amused us; but, alas! Johnson looks very ill
indeed--spiritless and wan. However, he made an effort to be cheerful.'
Miss Adams wrote on June 14, 1782:--'On Wednesday we had here a
delightful blue-stocking party. Dr. and Mrs. Kennicott and Miss More,
Dr. Johnson, Mr. Henderson, &c., dined here. Poor Dr. Johnson is in very
bad health, but he exerted himself as much as he could, and being very
fond of Miss More, he talked a good deal, and every word he says is
worth recording. He took great delight in showing Miss More every part
of Pembroke College, and his own rooms, &c., and told us many things
about himself when here. .. June 19, 1782. We dined yesterday for the
last time in the company with Dr. Johnson; he went away to-day. A warm
dispute arose; it was about cider or wine freezing, and all the spirit
retreating to the center.' _Pemb. Coll. MSS._

[476] 'I never retired to rest without feeling the justness of the
Spanish proverb, "Let him who sleeps too much borrow the pillow of a
debtor."' Johnson's _Works_, iv. 14.

[477] See _ante_, i. 441.

[478] Which I celebrated in the Church of England chapel at Edinburgh,
founded by Lord Chief Baron Smith, of respectable and pious
memory. BOSWELL.

[479] See _ante_, p. 80.

[480] The Reverend Mr. Temple, Vicar of St. Gluvias, Cornwall. BOSWELL.
See _ante_, i. 436, and ii. 316.

[481] 'He had settled on his eldest son,' says Dr. Rogers
(_Boswelliana_, p. 129), 'the ancestral estate, with an unencumbered
rental of £l,600 a year.' That the rental, whatever it was, was not
unencumbered is shewn by the passage from Johnson's letter, _post_, p.
155, note 4. Boswell wrote to Malone in 1791 (Croker's _Boswell_, p.
828):--'The clear money on which I can reckon out of my estate is
scarcely £900 a year.'

[482] Cowley's _Ode to Liberty_, Stanza vi.

[483] 'I do beseech all the succeeding heirs of entail,' wrote Boswell
in his will, 'to be kind to the tenants, and not to turn out old
possessors to get a little more rent.' Rogers's _Boswelliana, p. 186.

[484] Macleod, the Laird of Rasay. See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 8.

[485] A farm in the Isle of Skye, where Johnson wrote his Latin Ode to
Mrs. Thrale. _Ib._ Sept. 6.

[486] Johnson wrote to Dr. Taylor on Oct. 4:--'Boswel's (sic) father is
dead, and Boswel wrote me word that he would come to London for my
advice. [The] advice which I sent him is to stay at home, and [busy]
himself with his own affairs. He has a good es[tate], considerably
burthened by settlements, and he is himself in debt. But if his wife
lives, I think he will be prudent.' _Notes and Queries_, 6th S.
v. 462.

[487] Miss Burney wrote in the first week in December:--'Dr. Johnson was
in most excellent good humour and spirits.' She describes later on a
brilliant party which he attended at Miss Monckton's on the 8th, where
the people were 'superbly dressed,' and where he was 'environed with
listeners.' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, ii. 186, and 190. See _ante_, p.
108, note 4.

[488] See _ante,_, iii. 337, where Johnson got 'heated' when Boswell
maintained this.

[489] See _ante_, in. 395.

[490] The greatest part of the copy, or manuscript of _The Lives of the
Poets_ had been given by Johnson to Boswell (_ante_, iv. 36).

[491] Of her twelve children but these three were living. She was
forty-one years old.

[492] 'The family,' writes Dr. Burney, 'lived in the library, which used
to be the parlour. There they breakfasted. Over the bookcases were hung
Sir Joshua's portraits of Mr. Thrale's friends--Baretti, Burke, Burney,
Chambers, Garrick, Goldsmith, Johnson, Murphy, Reynolds, Lord Sandys,
Lord Westcote, and in the same picture Mrs. Thrale and her eldest
daughter.' Mr. Thrale's portrait was also there. Dr. Burney's _Memoirs_,
ii. 80, and Prior's _Malone_, p. 259.

[493] _Pr. and Med._ p. 214. BOSWELL.

[494] Boswell omits a line that follows this prayer:--'O Lord, so far
as, &c.,--Thrale.' This means, I think, 'so far as it might be lawful,
I prayed for Thrale.' The following day Johnson entered:--'I was called
early. I packed up my bundles, and used the foregoing prayer with my
morning devotions, somewhat, I think, enlarged. Being earlier than the
family, I read St. Paul's farewell in the _Acts_ [xx. 17-end], and then
read fortuitously in the gospels, which was my parting use of
the library.'

[495] Johnson, no doubt, was leaving Streatham because Mrs. Thrale was
leaving it. 'Streatham,' wrote Miss Burney, on Aug. 12 of this year, 'my
other home, and the place where I have long thought my residence
dependent only on my own pleasure, is already let for three years to
Lord Shelburne.' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, ii.151. Johnson was not yet
leaving the Thrale family, for he joined them at Brighton, and he was
living with them the following spring in Argyll-street. Nevertheless,
if, as all Mrs. Thrale's friends strongly held, her second marriage was
blameworthy, Boswell's remark admits of defence. Miss Burney in her
diary and letters keeps the secret which Mrs. Thrale had confided to her
of her attachment to Mr. Piozzi; but in the _Memoirs of Dr. Burney_,
which, as Mme. D'Arblay, she wrote long afterwards, she leaves little
doubt that Streatham was given up as a step towards the second marriage.
In 1782, on a visit there, she found that her father 'and all
others--Dr. Johnson not excepted--were cast into the same gulf of
general neglect. As Mrs. Thrale became more and more dissatisfied with
her own situation, and impatient for its relief, she slighted Johnson's
counsel, and avoided his society.' Mme. D'Arblay describes a striking
scene in which her father, utterly puzzled by 'sad and altered
Streatham,' left it one day with tears in his eyes. Another day, Johnson
accompanied her to London. 'His look was stern, though dejected, but
when his eye, which, however shortsighted, was quick to mental
perception, saw how ill at ease she appeared, all sternness subsided
into an undisguised expression of the strongest emotion, while, with a
shaking hand and pointing finger, he directed her looks to the mansion
from which they were driving; and when they faced it from the
coach-window, as they turned into Streatham Common, tremulously
exclaimed, "That house ...is lost to _me_... for ever."' Johnson's
letter to Langton of March 20, 1782 (_ante_, p. 145), in which he says
that he was 'musing in his chamber at Mrs. Thrale's,' shews that so
early as that date he foresaw that a change was coming. Boswell's
statement that 'Mrs. Thrale became less assiduous to please Johnson,'
might have been far more strongly worded. See Dr. Burney's _Memoirs_,
ii. 243-253. Lord Shelburne, who as Prime Minister was negotiating peace
with the United States, France, and Spain, hired Mrs. Thrale's house 'in
order to be constantly near London.' Fitzmaurice's _Shelburne_,
iii. 242.

[496] Mr. Croker quotes the following from the _Rose MSS_.:--'Oct. 6,
Die Dominica, 1782. Pransus sum Streathamiae agninum crus coctum cum
herbis (spinach) comminutis, farcimen farinaceum cum uvis passis, lumbos
bovillos, et pullum gallinae: Turcicae; et post carnes missas, ficus,
uvas, non admodum maturas, ita voluit anni intemperies, cum malis
Persicis, iis tamen duris. Non laetus accubui, cibum modicè sumpsi, ne
intemperantiâ ad extremum peccaretur. Si recte memini, in mentem
venerunt epulae in exequiis Hadoni celebratae. Streathamiam
quando revisam?'

[497] 'Mr. Metcalfe is much with Dr. Johnson, but seems to have taken an
unaccountable dislike to Mrs. Thrale, to whom he never speaks.... He is
a shrewd, sensible, keen, and very clever man.' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_,
ii. 172, 174. He, Burke, and Malone were Sir Joshua's executors.
Northcote's _Reynolds_, ii. 293.

[498] Boswell should have shown, for he must have known it, that Johnson
was Mrs. Thrale's guest at Brighton. Miss Burney was also of the party.
Her account of him is a melancholy one:--'Oct. 28. Dr. Johnson
accompanied us to a ball, to the universal amazement of all who saw him
there; but he said he had found it so dull being quite alone the
preceding evening, that he determined upon going with us; "for," said
he, "it cannot be worse than being alone."' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, ii.
161. 'Oct. 29. Mr. Pepys joined Dr. Johnson, with whom he entered into
an argument, in which he was so roughly confuted, and so severely
ridiculed, that he was hurt and piqued beyond all power of disguise,
and, in the midst of the discourse, suddenly turned from him, and,
wishing Mrs. Thrale goodnight, very abruptly withdrew. Dr. Johnson was
certainly right with respect to the argument and to reason; but his
opposition was so warm, and his wit so satirical and exulting, that I
was really quite grieved to see how unamiable he appeared, and how
greatly he made himself dreaded by all, and by many abhorred.' _Ib_. p.
163. 'Oct. 30. In the evening we all went to Mrs. Hatsel's. Dr. Johnson
was not invited.' _Ib_. p. 165. 'Oct. 31. A note came to invite us all,
except Dr. Johnson, to Lady Rothes's.' _Ib_. p. 168. 'Nov. 2. We went to
Lady Shelley's. Dr. Johnson again excepted in the invitation. He is
almost constantly omitted, either from too much respect or too much
fear. I am sorry for it, as he hates being alone.' _Ib_. p. 160. 'Nov.
7. Mr. Metcalfe called upon Dr. Johnson, and took him out an airing. Mr.
Hamilton is gone, and Mr. Metcalfe is now the only person out of this
house that voluntarily communicates with the Doctor. He has been in a
terrible severe humour of late, and has really frightened all the
people, till they almost ran from him. To me only I think he is now
kind, for Mrs. Thrale fares worse than anybody.' _Ib_. p. 177.

[499] '"Dr. Johnson has asked me," said Mr. Metcalfe, "to go with him to
Chichester, to see the cathedral, and I told him I would certainly go if
he pleased; but why I cannot imagine, for how shall a blind man see a
cathedral?" "I believe," quoth I [i.e. Miss Burney] "his blindness is as
much the effect of absence as of infirmity, for he sees wonderfully at
times."' _Ib_. p. 174. For Johnson's eyesight, see _ante_, i. 41.

[500] The second letter is dated the 28th. Johnson says:--'I have looked
_often_,' &c.; but he does not say 'he has been _much_ informed,' but
only 'informed.' Both letters are in the _Gent. Mag._ 1784, p. 893.

[501] The reference is to Rawlinson's MS. collections for a continuation
of Wood's _Athenae_ (Macray's _Annals of the Bodleian_, p. 181).

[502] Jortin's sermons are described by Johnson as 'very elegant.'
_Ante_, in. 248. He and Thirlby are mentioned by him in the _Life of
Pope. Works_, viii. 254.

[503] Markland was born 1693, died 1776. His notes on some of Euripides'
_Plays_ were published at the expense of Dr. Heberden. Markland had
previously destroyed a great many other notes; writing in 1764 he
said:--'Probably it will be a long time (if ever) before this sort of
learning will revive in England; in which it is easy to foresee that
there must be a disturbance in a few years, and all public disorders are
enemies to this sort of literature.' _Gent. Mag._ 1778, P. 3l0. 'I
remember,' writes Mrs. Piozzi (_Anec_. p. 252), 'when lamentation was
made of the neglect shown to Jeremiah Markland, a great philologist, as
some one ventured to call him: "He is a scholar undoubtedly, Sir,"
replied Dr. Johnson, "but remember that he would run from the world, and
that it is not the world's business to run after him. I hate a fellow
whom pride, or cowardice, or laziness drives into a corner, and [who]
does nothing when he is there but sit and _growl_; let him come out as I
do, and _bark_"' A brief account of him is given in the _Ann. Reg._
xix. 45.

[504] Nichols published in 1784 a brief account of Thirlby, nearly half
of it being written by Johnson. Thirlby was born in 1692 and died in
1753. 'His versatility led him to try the round of what are called the
learned professions.' His life was marred by drink and insolence.' His
mind seems to have been tumultuous and desultory, and he was glad to
catch any employment that might produce attention without anxiety; such
employment, as Dr. Battie has observed, is necessary for madmen.' _Gent.
Mag._ 1784, pp. 260, 893.

[505] He was attacked, says Northcote (_Life of Reynolds_, ii. 131), 'by
a slight paralytic affection, after an almost uninterrupted course of
good health for many years.' Miss Burney wrote on Dec. 28 to one of her
sisters:--'How can you wish any wishes [matrimonial wishes] about Sir
Joshua and me? A man who has had two shakes of the palsy!' Mme.
D'Arblay's _Diary_, ii. 218.

[506] Dr. Patten in Sept. 1781 (Croker's _Boswell_, p. 699) informed
Johnson of Wilson's intended dedication. Johnson, in his reply,
said:--'What will the world do but look on and laugh when one scholar
dedicates to another?'

[507] On the same day he wrote to Dr. Taylor:-'This, my dear Sir, is the
last day of a very sickly and melancholy year. Join your prayers with
mine, that the next may be more happy to us both. I hope the happiness
which I have not found in this world will by infinite mercy be granted
in another.' _Notes and Queries_, 6th S. v. 462.

[508] 'Jan. 4, 1783. Dr. Johnson came so very late that we had all given
him up; he was very ill, and only from an extreme of kindness did he
come at all. When I went up to him to tell how sorry I was to find him
so unwell, "Ah," he cried, taking my hand and kissing it, "who shall ail
anything when Cecilia is so near? Yet you do not think how poorly I am."

All dinner time he hardly opened his mouth but to repeat to me:--"Ah!
you little know how ill I am." He was excessively kind to me in spite of
all his pain.' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, ii. 228. _Cecilia_ was the name
of her second novel (_post_, May 26, 1783). On Jan. 10 he thus ended a
letter to Mr. Nichols:--'Now I will put you in a way of shewing me more
kindness. I have been confined by ilness (sic) a long time, and sickness
and solitude make tedious evenings. Come sometimes and see, Sir,

'Your humble servant,


_MS_. in the British Museum.

[509] 'Dr. Johnson found here [at Auchinleck] Baxter's Anacreon, which
he told me he had long inquired for in vain, and began to suspect there
was no such book.' Boswell's _Hebrides_, Nov.2. See _post_, under
Sept. 29, 1783.

[510] 'The delight which men have in popularity, fame, honour,
submission, and subjection of other men's minds, wills, or affections,
although these things may be desired for other ends, seemeth to be a
thing in itself, without contemplation of consequence, grateful and
agreeable to the nature of man.' Bacon's _Nat. Hist._ Exper. No. 1000.
See _ante_, ii. 178.

[511] In a letter to Dr. Taylor on Jan. 21 of this year, he attacked the
scheme of equal representation.' Pitt, on May 7, 1782, made his first
reform motion. Johnson thus ended his letter:--'If the scheme were more
reasonable, this is not a time for innovation. I am afraid of a civil
war. The business of every wise man seems to be now to keep his ground.'
_Notes and Queries_, 6th S. v. 481.

[512] See _ante_, i. 429, _post_, 170, and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept.

[513] The year after this conversation the General Election of 1784 was
held, which followed on the overthrow of the Coalition Ministry and the
formation of the Pitt Ministry in December, 1783. The 'King's friends'
were in a minority of one in the last great division in the old
Parliament; in the motion on the Address in the new Parliament they had
a majority of 168. _Parl. Hist._ xxiv. 744, 843. Miss Burney, writing in
Nov. 1788, when the King was mad, says that one of his physicians 'moved
me even to tears by telling me that none of their own lives would be
safe if the King did not recover, so prodigiously high ran the tide of
affection and loyalty. All the physicians received threatening letters
daily, to answer for the safety of their monarch with their lives! Sir
G. Baker had already been stopped in his carriage by the mob, to give an
account of the King; and when he said it was a bad one, they had
furiously exclaimed, "The more shame for you."' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_,
iv. 336. Describing in 1789 a Royal tour in the West of England, she
writes of 'the crowds, the rejoicings, the hallooing and singing, and
garlanding and decorating of all the inhabitants of this old city
[Exeter], and of all the country through which we passed.' _Ib._ v. 48.

[514] Miss Palmer, Sir Joshua's niece, 'heard Dr. Johnson repeat these
verses with the tears falling over his cheek.' Taylor's _Reynolds_,
ii. 417.

[515] Gibbon remarked that 'Mr. Fox was certainly very shy of saying
anything in Johnson's presence.' _Ante_, iii. 267. See _post_, under
June 9, 1784, where Johnson said 'Fox is my friend.'

[516] Mr. Greville (_Journal_, ed. 1874, ii. 316) records the following
on the authority of Lord Holland:--'Johnson liked Fox because he
defended his pension, and said it was only to blame in not being large
enough. "Fox," he said, is a liberal man; he would always be _aut Caesar
aut nullus_; whenever I have seen him he has been _nullus_. Lord Holland
said Fox made it a rule never to talk in Johnson's presence, because he
knew all his conversations were recorded for publication, and he did not
choose to figure in them.' Fox could not have known what was not the
fact. When Boswell was by, he had reason for his silence; but otherwise
he might have spoken out. 'Mr. Fox,' writes Mackintosh (_Life_, i. 322)
'united, in a most remarkable degree, the seemingly repugnant characters
of the mildest of men and the most vehement of orators. In private life
he was so averse from parade and dogmatism as to be somewhat inactive in
conversation.' Gibbon (_Misc. Works_, i. 283) tells how Fox spent a day
with him at Lausanne:--'Perhaps it never can happen again, that I should
enjoy him as I did that day, alone from ten in the morning till ten at
night. Our conversation never flagged a moment.' 'In London mixed
society,' said Rogers (_Table-Talk_, p. 74), 'Fox conversed little; but
at his own house in the country, with his intimate friends, he would
talk on for ever, with all the openness and simplicity of a child.'

[517] Sec _ante_, ii. 450.

[518] Most likely 'Old Mr. Sheridan.'

[519] See _ante_, ii. 166.

[520] Were I to insert all the stories which have been told of contests
boldly maintained with him, imaginary victories obtained over him, of
reducing him to silence, and of making him own that his antagonist had
the better of him in argument, my volumes would swell to an immoderate
size. One instance, I find, has circulated both in conversation and in
print; that when he would not allow the Scotch writers to have merit,
the late Dr. Rose, of Chiswick, asserted, that he could name one Scotch
writer, whom Dr. Johnson himself would allow to have written better than
any man of the age; and upon Johnson's asking who it was, answered,
'Lord Bute, when he signed the warrant for your pension.' Upon which
Johnson, struck with the repartee, acknowledged that this _was_ true.
When I mentioned it to Johnson, 'Sir, (said he,) if Rose said this, I
never heard it.' BOSWELL.

[521] This reflection was very natural in a man of a good heart, who was
not conscious of any ill-will to mankind, though the sharp sayings which
were sometimes produced by his discrimination and vivacity, which he
perhaps did not recollect, were, I am afraid, too often remembered with
resentment. BOSWELL. When, three months later on, he was struck with
palsy, he wrote to Mrs. Thrale:--'I have in this still scene of life
great comfort in reflecting that I have given very few reason to hate
me. I hope scarcely any man has known me closely but for his benefit, or
cursorily but to his innocent entertainment. Tell me, you that know me
best, whether this be true, that according to your answer I may continue
my practice, or try to mend it.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 287. See _post_,
May 19, 1784. Passages such as the two following might have shewn him
why he had enemies. 'For roughness, it is a needless cause of
discontent; severity breedeth fear, but roughness breedeth hate.'
Bacon's _Essays_, No. xi. ''Tis possible that men may be as oppressive
by their parts as their power.' _The Government of the Tongue_, sect.
vii. See _ante_, i. 388, note 2.

[522] 'A grain which in England is generally given to horses, but in
Scotland supports the people.' _Ante_, i. 294. Stockdale records
(_Memoirs_, ii. 191) that he heard a Scotch lady, after quoting this
definition, say to Johnson, 'I can assure you that in Scotland we give
oats to our horses as well as you do to yours in England.' He
replied:--'I am very glad, Madam, to find that you treat your horses as
well as you treat yourselves.'

[523] Sir Joshua Reynolds wrote:--'The prejudices he had to countries
did not extend to individuals. The chief prejudice in which he indulged
himself was against Scotland, though he had the most cordial friendship
with individuals. This he used to vindicate as a duty. ... Against the
Irish he entertained no prejudice; he thought they united themselves
very well with us; but the Scotch, when in England, united and made a
party by employing only Scotch servants and Scotch tradesmen. He held it
right for Englishmen to oppose a party against them.' Taylor's
_Reynolds_, ii. 460. See _ante_, ii. 242, 306, and Boswell's _Hebrides,
post_, v. 20.

[524] _Ante_, ii. 300.

[525] Mrs. Piozzi (_Anec_. p. 85) says that 'Dr. Johnson, commonly
spending the middle of the week at our house, kept his numerous family
in Fleet-street upon a settled allowance; but returned to them every
Saturday to give them three good dinners and his company, before he came
back to us on the Monday night.'

[526] Lord North's Ministry lasted from 1770, to March, 1782. It was
followed by the Rockingham Ministry, and the Shelburne Ministry, which
in its turn was at this very time giving way to the Coalition Ministry,
to be followed very soon by the Pitt Ministry.

[527] I have, in my _Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides_ [p. 200, Sept.
13], fully expressed my sentiments upon this subject. The Revolution was
_necessary_, but not a subject for _glory_; because it for a long time
blasted the generous feelings of _Loyalty_. And now, when by the
benignant effect of time the present Royal Family are established in our
_affections_, how unwise it is to revive by celebrations the memory of a
shock, which it would surely have been better that our constitution had
not required. BOSWELL. See _ante_, iii. 3, and iv. 40, note 4.

[528] Johnson reviewed this book in 1756. _Ante_, i. 309.

[529] Johnson, four months later, wrote to one of Mrs. Thrale's
daughters:--'Never think, my sweet, that you have arithmetick enough;
when you have exhausted your master, buy books. ... A thousand stories
which the ignorant tell and believe die away at once when the computist
takes them in his gripe.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 296. See _post_,
April 18, 1783.

[530] See _ante_, p. 116; also iii. 310, where he bore the same topic
impatiently when with Dr. Scott.

[531] See _ante_, ii. 357.


     'See nations, slowly wise and meanly just,
     To buried merit raise the tardy bust.'
     Johnson's _Vanity of Human Wishes_.

[533] He was perhaps, thinking of Markland. _Ante_, p. 161, note 3.

[534] 'Dr. Johnson,' writes Mrs. Piozzi, 'was no complainer of
ill-usage. I never heard him even lament the disregard shown to
_Irene_.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 386. See _ante_, i. 200.

[535] Letter to the People of Scotland against the attempt to diminish
the number of the Lords of Session, 1785. BOSWELL. 'By Mr. Burke's
removal from office the King's administration was deprived of the
assistance of that affluent mind, which is so universally rich that, as
long as British literature and British politicks shall endure, it will
be said of Edmund Burke, _Regum equabat [sic] opes animis.'_ p.71.

[536] _Georgics_, iv. 132.

[537] See _ante_, iii. 56, note 2.

[538] Very likely Boswell.

[539] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 22.

[540] Johnson had said:--'Lord Chesterfield is the proudest man this day
existing.' _Ante_, i. 265.

[541] Lord Shelburne. At this time he was merely holding office till a
new Ministry was formed. On April 5 he was succeeded by the Duke of
Portland. His 'coarse manners' were due to a neglected childhood. In the
fragment of his _Autobiography_ he describes 'the domestic brutality and
ill-usage he experienced at home,' in the South of Ireland. 'It cost
me,' he continues, 'more to unlearn the habits, manners, and principles
which I then imbibed, than would have served to qualify me for any
_rôle_ whatever through life.' Fitzmaurice's _Shelburne_, i. 12, 16.

[542] Bentham, it is reported, said of of him that 'alone of his own
time, he was a "Minister who did not fear the people."' _Ib._ iii. 572.

[543] Malagrida, a Jesuit, was put to death at Lisbon in 1761, nominally
on a charge of heresy, but in reality on a suspicion of his having
sanctioned, as confessor to one of the conspirators, an attempt to
assassinate King Joseph of Portugal. Voltaire, _Siècle de Louis XV_, ch.
xxxviii. 'His name,' writes Wraxall (_Memoirs_, ed. 1815, i. 67), 'is
become proverbial among us to express duplicity.' It was first applied
to Lord Shelburne in a squib attributed to Wilkes, which contained a
vision of a masquerade. The writer, after describing him as masquerading
as 'the heir apparent of Loyola and all the College,' continues:--'A
little more of the devil, my Lord, if you please, about the eyebrows;
that's enough, a perfect Malagrida, I protest.' Fitzmaurice's
_Shelburne_, ii. 164. 'George III. habitually spoke of Shelburne as
"Malagrida," and the "Jesuit of Berkeley Square."' _Ib._ iii. 8. The
charge of duplicity was first made against Shelburne on the retirement
of Fox (the first Lord Holland) in 1763. 'It was the tradition of
Holland House that Bute justified the conduct of Shelburne, by telling
Fox that it was "a pious fraud." "I can see the fraud plainly enough,"
is said to have been Fox's retort, "but where is the piety?"' _Ib_. i.
226. Any one who has examined Reynolds's picture of Shelburne,
especially 'about the eyebrows,' at once sees how the name of Jesuit
was given.

[544] Beauclerk wrote to Lord Charlemont on Nov. 20, 1773:-'Goldsmith
the other day put a paragraph into the newspapers in praise of Lord
Mayor Townshend. [Shelburne supported Townshend in opposition to Wilkes
in the election of the Lord Mayor. Fitzmaurice's _Shelburne_, ii. 287.]
The same night we happened to sit next to Lord Shelburne at Drury Lane.
I mentioned the circumstance of the paragraph to him; he said to
Goldsmith that he hoped that he had mentioned nothing about Malagrida in
it. "Do you know," answered Goldsmith, "that I never could conceive the
reason why they call you Malagrida, _for_ Malagrida was a very good sort
of man." You see plainly what he meant to say, but that happy turn of
expression is peculiar to himself. Mr. Walpole says that this story is a
picture of Goldsmith's whole life.' _Life of Charlemont_, i. 344.

[545] Most likely Reynolds, who introduced Crabbe to Johnson. Crabbe's
_Works_, ed. 1834, ii. 11.


        'I paint the cot,
     As truth will paint it, and as Bards will not.
     Nor you, ye Poor, of lettered scorn complain,
     To you the smoothest song is smooth in vain;
     O'ercome by labour, and bowed down by time,
     Feel you the barren flattery of a rhyme?
     Can poets soothe you, when you pine for bread,
     By winding myrtles round your ruined shed?
     Can their light tales your weighty griefs o'erpower,
     Or glad with airy mirth the toilsome hour?'

     _The Village_, book i.

See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 6.

[547] I shall give an instance, marking the original by Roman, and
Johnson's substitution in Italick characters:--

     'In fairer scenes, where peaceful pleasures spring,
     Tityrus, the pride of Mantuan swains, might sing:
     But charmed by him, or smitten with his views,
     Shall modern poets court the Mantuan muse?
     From Truth and Nature shall we widely stray,
     Where Fancy leads, or Virgil led the way?'
     '_On Mincio's banks, in Caesar's bounteous reign,
     If Tityrus found the golden age again,
     Must sleepy bards the flattering dream prolong,
     Mechanick echoes of the Mantuan song?_
     From Truth and Nature shall we widely stray,
     _Where Virgil, not where Fancy, leads the way?._

Here we find Johnson's poetical and critical powers undiminished. I
must, however, observe, that the aids he gave to this poem, as to _The
Traveller_ and _Deserted Village_ of Goldsmith, were so small as by no
means to impair the distinguished merit of the authour. BOSWELL.

[548] In the _Gent. Mag._ 1763, pp. 602, 633, is a review of his
_Observations on Diseases of the Army_. He says that the register of
deaths of military men proves that more than eight times as many men
fall by what was called the gaol fever as by battle. His suggestions are
eminently wise. Lord Seaford, in 1835, told Leslie 'that he remembered
dining in company with Dr. Johnson at Dr. Brocklesby's, when he was a
boy of twelve or thirteen. He was impressed with the superiority of
Johnson, and his knocking everybody down in argument.' C.R. Leslie's
_Recollections_, i. 146.

[549] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 28.

[550] See _ante_, i. 433, and ii. 217, 358.

[551] "In his _Life of Swift_ (_Works_, viii. 205) he thus speaks of
this _Journal_:-'In the midst of his power and his politicks, he kept a
journal of his visits, his walks, his interviews with ministers, and
quarrels with his servant, and transmitted it to Mrs. Johnson and Mrs.
Dingley, to whom he knew that whatever befell him was interesting, and
no accounts could be too minute. Whether these diurnal trifles were
properly exposed to eyes which had never received any pleasure from the
presence of the dean, may be reasonably doubted: they have, however,
some odd attraction: the reader, finding frequent mention of names which
he has been used to consider as important, goes on in hope of
information; and, as there is nothing to fatigue attention, if he is
disappointed, he can hardly complain.'"

[552] On his fifty-fifth birthday he recorded:--'I resolve to keep a
journal both of employment and of expenses. To keep accounts.' _Pr. and
Med_. 59. See _post_, Aug. 25, 1784, where he writes to Langton:--'I am
a little angry at you for not keeping minutes of your own _acceptum et
expensum_, and think a little time might be spared from Aristophanes for
the _res familiares_.'

[553] This Mr. Chalmers thought was George Steevens. CROKER. D'Israeli
(_Curiosities of Literature_, ed. 1834, vi. 76) describes Steevens as
guilty of 'an unparalleled series of arch deception and malicious
ingenuity.' He gives curious instances of his literary impostures. See
_ante_, iii. 281, and _post_, May 15, 1784.

[554] If this be Lord Mansfield, Boswell must use _late_ in the sense of
_in retirement_; for Mansfield was living when the _Life of Johnson_ was
published. He retired in 1788. Johnson in 1772, said that he had never
been in his company (_ante_, ii. 158). The fact that Mansfield is
mentioned in the previous paragraph adds to the probability that he
is meant.

[555] See _ante_, ii. 318.

[556] In Scotland, Johnson spoke of Mansfield's 'splendid talents.'
Boswell's _Hebrides_, under Nov. 11.

[557] 'I am not only witty in myself, but the cause that wit is in other
men.' 2 _ Henry IV_, act i. sc. 2.

[558] Knowing as well as I do what precision and elegance of oratory his
Lordship can display, I cannot but suspect that his unfavourable
appearance in a social circle, which drew such animadversions upon him,
must be owing to a cold affectation of consequence, from being reserved
and stiff. If it be so, and he might be an agreeable man if he would, we
cannot be sorry that he misses his aim. BOSWELL. Wedderburne, afterwards
Lord Loughborough, is mentioned (_ante_, ii. 374), and again in Murphy's
_Life of Johnson_, p. 43, as being in company with Johnson and Foote.
Boswell also has before (_ante_, i. 387) praised the elegance of his
oratory. Henry Mackenzie (_Life of John Home_, i. 56) says that
Wedderburne belonged to a club at the British Coffee-house, of which
Garrick, Smollett, and Dr. Douglas were members.

[559] Boswell informed the people of Scotland in the Letter that he
addressed to them in 1785 (p. 29), that 'now that Dr. Johnson is gone to
a better world, he (Boswell) bowed the intellectual knee to _Lord
Thurlow_.' See _post_, June 22, 1784.

[560] Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 27.


     'Charged with light summer-rings his fingers sweat,
      Unable to support a gem of weight.'
     DRYDEN. Juvenal, _Satires_, i. 29.

[562] He had published a series of seventy _Essays_ under the title of
_The Hypochondriack_ in the _London Magazine_ from 1777 to 1783.

[563] Juvenal, _Satires_, x. 365. The common reading, however, is
'Nullum numen _habes_,' &c. Mrs. Piozzi (_Anec._ p. 218) records this
saying, but with a variation. '"For," says Mr. Johnson, "though I do not
quite agree with the proverb, that _Nullum numen adest si sit
prudentia_, yet we may very well say, that _Nullum numen adest, ni sit

[564] It has since appeared. BOSWELL.

[565] Miss Burney mentions meeting Dr. Harington at Bath in 1780. 'It is
his son,' she writes, 'who published those very curious remains of his
ancestor [Sir John Harington] under the title _Nugae Antiquae_ which my
father and all of us were formerly so fond of.' Mme. D'Arblay's
_Diary_, i. 341.


     'For though they are but trifles, thou
      Some value didst to them allow.'

      Martin's _Catullus_, p. 1.


     --Underneath this rude, uncouth disguise,
     A genius of extensive knowledge lies.'

     FRANCIS. Horace, _Satires_, i. 3. 33.

[568] He would not have been a troublesome patient anywhere, for,
according to Mrs. Piozzi (_Anec_. p. 275),'he required less attendance,
sick or well, than ever I saw any human creature.'

[569] 'That natural jealousy which makes every man unwilling to allow
much excellence in another, always produces a disposition to believe
that the mind grows old with the body; and that he whom we are now
forced to confess superiour is hastening daily to a level with
ourselves.' Johnson's _Works_, vii. 212.

[570] With the following elucidation of the saying-_Quos Deus_ (it
should rather be-_Quem Jupiter) vult perdere, prius dementat_-Mr.
Boswell was furnished by Mr. Pitts:--'Perhaps no scrap of Latin whatever
has been more quoted than this. It occasionally falls even from those
who are scrupulous even to pedantry in their Latinity, and will not
admit a word into their compositions, which has not the sanction of the
first age. The word _demento_ is of no authority, either as a verb
active or neuter.--After a long search for the purpose of deciding a
bet, some gentlemen of Cambridge found it among the fragments of
Euripides, in what edition I do not recollect, where it is given as a
translation of a Greek Iambick: [Greek: Ou Theos thelei apolesoi'

'The above scrap was found in the hand-writing of a suicide of fashion,
Sir D. O., some years ago, lying on the table of the room where he had
destroyed himself. The suicide was a man of classical acquirements: he
left no other paper behind him.'

Another of these proverbial sayings,

     _Incidit in Scyllam, cupiens vitare Charybdim,_

I, in a note on a passage in _The Merchant of Venice_ [act iii. sc. 5],
traced to its source. It occurs (with a slight variation) in the
_Alexandreis_ of Philip Gualtier (a poet of the thirteenth century),
which was printed at Lyons in 1558. Darius is the person addressed:--

     --Quò tendis inertem,
     Rex periture, fugam? nescis, heu! perdite, nescis
     Quern fugias: hostes incurris dum fugis hostem;
     _Incidis in Scyllam, cupiens vitare Charybdim._

A line not less frequently quoted was suggested for enquiry in a note on
_The Rape of Lucrece:--

Solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris--_:

But the author of this verse has not, I believe, been discovered.
MALONE. The 'Greek lambick' in the above note is not Greek. To a learned
friend I owe the following note. 'The _Quem Jupiter vult perdere_, &c.,
is said to be a translation of a fragment of _Euripides_ by Joshua
Barnes. There is, I believe, no such fragment at all. In Barnes's
_Euripides_, Cantab. 1694, fol. p. 515, is a fragment of Euripides with
a note which may explain the muddle of Boswell's correspondent:--

"[Greek: otau de daimonn handri porsunae kaka ton noun heblapse proton,]"

on which Barnes writes:--"Tale quid in Franciados nostrae [probably his
uncompleted poem on Edward III.] l. 3. _Certe ille deorum Arbiter
ultricem cum vult extendere dextram Dementat prius._"' See _ante_, ii.
445, note 1. Sir D. O. is, perhaps, Sir D'Anvers Osborne, whose death is
recorded in the _Gent. Mag._ 1753, p. 591. 'Sir D'Anvers Osborne, Bart.,
Governor of New York, soon after his arrival there; _in his garden.'
Solamen miseris, &c._, is imitated by Swift in his _Verses on Stella's
Birthday_, 1726-7:--

     'The only comfort they propose,
     To have companions in their woes.'

Swift's _Works_, ed. 1803, xi. 22. The note on _Lucrece_ was, I
conjecture, on line 1111:--

'Grief best is pleased with grief's society.'


     "Tu quoque, ut hîc video, non es ignarus amorum."
     "Id commune malum; semel insanivimus omnes."'

Baptistae Mantuani Carmelitae _Adolescentia, seu Bucolica_. Ecloga I,
published in 1498. 'Scaliger,' says Johnson (_Works_, viii. 391),
'complained that Mantuan's Bucolicks were received into schools, and
taught as classical. ... He was read, at least in some of the inferiour
schools of this kingdom, to the beginning of the present
[eighteenth] century.'

[572] See _ante_, i. 368.

[573] See _ante_, i. 396.

[574] I am happy, however, to mention a pleasing instance of his
enduring with great gentleness to hear one of his most striking
particularities pointed out:--Miss Hunter, a niece of his friend
Christopher Smart, when a very young girl, struck by his extraordinary
motions, said to him, 'Pray, Dr. Johnson, why do you make such strange
gestures?' 'From bad habit,' he replied. 'Do you, my dear, take care to
guard against bad habits.' This I was told by the young lady's brother
at Margate. BOSWELL. Boswell had himself told Johnson of some of them,
at least in writing. Johnson read in manuscript his _Journal of a Tour
to the Hebrides_. Boswell says in a note on Oct. 12:--'It is remarkable
that Dr. Johnson should have read this account of some of his own
peculiar habits, without saying anything on the subject, which I hoped
he would have done.'

[575] See _ante_, ii. 42, note 2, and iii. 324.

[576] Johnson, after stating that some of Milton's manuscripts prove
that 'in the early part of his life he wrote with much care,'
continues:--'Such reliques show how excellence is acquired; what we hope
ever to do with ease, we must learn first to do with diligence.'
_Works_, vii. 119. Lord Chesterfield (_Letters_, iii. 146) had made the
same rule as Johnson:--'I was,' he writes, 'early convinced of the
importance and powers of eloquence; and from that moment I applied
myself to it. I resolved not to utter one word even in common
conversation that should not be the most expressive and the most elegant
that the language could supply me with for that purpose; by which means
I have acquired such a certain degree of habitual eloquence, that I must
now really take some pains if I would express myself very inelegantly.'

[577] 'Dr. Johnson,' wrote Malone in 1783, 'is as correct and elegant in
his common conversation as in his writings. He never seems to study
either for thoughts or words. When first introduced I was very young;
yet he was as accurate in his conversation as if he had been talking to
the first scholar in England.' Prior's _Malone_, p. 92. See _post_,
under Aug. 29, 1783.

[578] See _ante_, iii. 216.

[579] See _ante_, ii. 323.

[580] The justness of this remark is confirmed by the following story,
for which I am indebted to Lord Eliot:--A country parson, who was
remarkable for quoting scraps of Latin in his sermons, having died, one
of his parishioners was asked how he liked his successor. 'He is a very
good preacher,' was his answer, 'but no _latiner_.' BOSWELL. For the
original of Lord Eliot's story see Twells's _Life of Dr. E. Pocock_, ed.
1816, p. 94. Reynolds said that 'Johnson always practised on every
occasion the rule of speaking his best, whether the person to whom he
addressed himself was or was not capable of comprehending him. "If,"
says he, "I am understood, my labour is not lost. If it is above their
comprehension, there is some gratification, though it is the admiration
of ignorance;" and he said those were the most sincere admirers; and
quoted Baxter, who made a rule never to preach a sermon without saying
something which he knew was beyond the comprehension of his audience, in
order to inspire their admiration.' Taylor's _Reynolds_, ii. 456.
Addison, in _The Spectator_, No. 221, tells of a preacher in a country
town who outshone a more ignorant rival, by quoting every now and then a
Latin sentence from one of the Fathers. 'The other finding his
congregation mouldering every Sunday, and hearing at length what was the
occasion of it, resolved to give his parish a little Latin in his turn;
but being unacquainted with any of the Fathers, he digested into his
sermons the whole book of _Quae Genus_, adding, however, such
explications to it as he thought might be for the benefit of his people.
He afterwards entered upon _As in praesenti_, which he converted in the
same manner to the use of his parishioners. This in a very little time
thickened his audience, filled his church, and routed his antagonist.'

[581] See _ante_, ii. 96

[582] '"Well," said he, "we had good talk." BOSWELL. "Yes, Sir; you
tossed and gored several persons."' _Ante,_ ii. 66.

[583] Dr. J. H. Burton says of Hume (_Life, ii. 31_):--'No Scotsman
could write a book of respectable talent without calling forth his loud
and warm eulogiums. Wilkie was to be the Homer, Blacklock the Pindar,
and Home the Shakespeare or something still greater of his country.' See
_ante_, ii. 121, 296, 306.

[584] _The Present State of Music in France and Italy,_ I vol. 1771, and
_The Present State of Music in Germany, &c.,_ 2 vols. 1773. Johnson must
have skipped widely in reading these volumes, for though Dr. Burney
describes his travels, yet he writes chiefly of music.

[585] Boswell's son James says that he heard from his father, that the
passage which excited this strong emotion was the following:--

     'Tis night, and the landscape is lovely no more:
       I mourn, but, ye woodlands, I mourn not for you;
     For morn is approaching, your charms to restore,
       Perfumed with fresh fragrance, and glittering with dew;
     Nor yet for the ravage of winter I mourn;
       Kind Nature the embryo blossom will save:
     But when shall spring visit the mouldering urn?
       O when shall it dawn on the night of the grave?'

[586] Horace Walpole (_Letters_, vii. 338) mentions this book at some
length. On March 13, 1780, he wrote:--'Yesterday was published an
octavo, pretending to contain the correspondence of Hackman and Miss Ray
that he murdered.' See _ante_, iii. 383.

[587] Hawkins (_Life_, p. 547), recording how Johnson used to meet
Psalmanazar at an ale-house, says that Johnson one day 'remarked on the
human mind, that it had a necessary tendency to improvement, and that it
would frequently anticipate instruction. "Sir," said a stranger that
overheard him, "that I deny; I am a tailor, and have had many
apprentices, but never one that could make a coat till I had taken great
pains in teaching him."' See _ante_, iii. 443. Robert Hall was
influenced in his studies by 'his intimate association in mere childhood
with a tailor, one of his father's congregation, who was an acute
metaphysician.' Hall's _Works_, vi. 5.

[588] Johnson had never been in Grub-street. _Ante_, i. 296, note 2.

[589] The Honourable Horace Walpole, late Earl of Orford, thus bears
testimony to this gentleman's merit as a writer:--'Mr. Chambers's
_Treatise on Civil Architecture_ is the most sensible book, and the most
exempt from prejudices, that ever was written on that science.'--Preface
to _Anecdotes of Painting in England_. BOSWELL. Chambers was the
architect of Somerset House. See _ante_, p. 60, note 7.

[590] The introductory lines are these:--'It is difficult to avoid
praising too little or too much. The boundless panegyricks which have
been lavished upon the Chinese learning, policy, and arts, shew with
what power novelty attracts regard, and how naturally esteem swells into
admiration. I am far from desiring to be numbered among the exaggerators
of Chinese excellence. I consider them as great, or wise, only in
comparison with the nations that surround them; and have no intention to
place them in competition either with the antients or with the moderns
of this part of the world; yet they must be allowed to claim our notice
as a distinct and very singular race of men: as the inhabitants of a
region divided by its situation from all civilized countries, who have
formed their own manners, and invented their own arts, without the
assistance of example.' BOSWELL.

[591] The last execution at Tyburn was on Nov. 7, 1783, when one man was
hanged. The first at Newgate was on the following Dec. 9, when ten were
hanged. _Gent. Mag._ 1783, pp. 974, 1060.

[592] We may compare with this 'loose talk' Johnson's real opinion, as
set forth in _The Rambler_, No. 114, entitled:--_The necessity of
proportioning punishments to crimes_. He writes:--'The learned, the
judicious, the pious Boerhaave relates that he never saw a criminal
dragged to execution without asking himself, "Who knows whether this man
is not less culpable than me?" On the days when the prisons of this city
are emptied into the grave, let every spectator of this dreadful
procession put the same question to his own heart. Few among those that
crowd in thousands to the legal massacre, and look with carelessness,
perhaps with triumph, on the utmost exacerbations of human misery, would
then be able to return without horror and dejection.' He continues:--'It
may be observed that all but murderers have, at their last hour, the
common sensations of mankind pleading in their favour.... They who would
rejoice at the correction of a thief, are yet shocked at the thought of
destroying him. His crime shrinks to nothing compared with his misery,
and severity defeats itself by exciting pity.'

[593] Richardson, in his _Familiar Letters_, No. 160, makes a country
gentleman in town describe the procession of five criminals to Tyburn,
and their execution. He should have heard, he said, 'the exhortation
spoken by the bell-man from the wall of St. Sepulchre's church-yard;
but the noise of the officers and the mob was so great, and the silly
curiosity of people climbing into the cart to take leave of the
criminals made such a confused noise that I could not hear them. They
are as follow: "All good people pray heartily to God for these poor
sinners, who now are going to their deaths; for whom this great bell
doth toll. You that are condemned to die, repent with lamentable
tears.... Lord have mercy upon you! Christ have mercy upon you!" which
last words the bell-man repeats three times. All the way up Holborn the
crowd was so great, as at every twenty or thirty yards to obstruct the
passage; and wine, notwithstanding a late good order against that
practice, was brought the malefactors, who drank greedily of it. After
this the three thoughtless young men, who at first seemed not enough
concerned, grew most shamefully daring and wanton. They swore, laughed,
and talked obscenely. At the place of execution the scene grew still
more shocking; and the clergyman who attended was more the subject of
ridicule than of their serious attention. The psalm was sung amidst the
curses and quarrelling of hundreds of the most abandoned and profligate
of mankind. As soon as the poor creatures were half-dead, I was much
surprised to see the populace fall to haling and pulling the carcases
with so much earnestness as to occasion several warm rencounters and
broken heads. These, I was told, were the friends of the persons
executed, or such as for the sake of tumult chose to appear so; and some
persons sent by private surgeons to obtain bodies for dissection.' The
psalm is mentioned in a note on the line in _The Dunciad_, i. 4l, 'Hence
hymning Tyburn's elegiac lines:'--'It is an ancient English custom,'
says Pope, 'for the malefactors to sing a psalm at their execution
at Tyburn.'

[594] The rest of these miscellaneous sayings were first given in the
_Additions to Dr. Johnson's Life_ at the beginning of vol. I of the
second edition.

[595] Hume (_Auto_. p. 6) speaks of Hurd as attacking him 'with all the
illiberal petulance, arrogance, and scurrility which distinguish the
Warburtonian school.' 'Hurd,' writes Walpole, 'had acquired a great name
by several works of slender merit, was a gentle, plausible man,
affecting a singular decorum that endeared him highly to devout old
ladies.' _Journal of the Reign of George III_, ii. 50. He is best known
to the present generation by his impertinent notes on Addison's _Works_.
By reprinting them, Mr. Bohn did much to spoil what was otherwise an
excellent edition of that author. See _ante_, p. 47, note 2.

[596] The Rev. T. Twining, one of Dr. Burney's friends, wrote in
1779:--'You use a form of reference that I abominate, i.e. the latter,
the former. "As long as you have the use of your tongue and your pen,"
said Dr. Johnson to Dr. Burney, "never, Sir, be reduced to that shift."'
_Recreations and Studies of a Country Clergyman of the XVIIIth
Century_, p. 72.

[597] 'A shilling was now wanted for some purpose or other, and none of
them happened to have one; I begged that I might lend one. "Ay, do,"
said the Doctor, "I will borrow of you; authors are like privateers,
always fair game for one another."' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, ii. 212.

[598] See _ante_, i. 129, note 3.

[599] See _post_, June 3, 1784, where he uses almost the same words.

[600] What this period was Boswell seems to leave intentionally vague.
Johnson knew Lord Shelburne at least as early as 1778 (_ante_, iii.
265). He wrote to Dr. Taylor on July 22, 1782:--'Shelburne speaks of
Burke in private with great malignity.' _Notes and Queries_, 6th S. v.
462. The company commonly gathered at his house would have been
displeasing to Johnson. Priestley, who lived with Shelburne seven years,
says (_Auto_. p. 55) that a great part of the company he saw there was
like the French philosophers, unbelievers in Christianity, and even
professed atheists: men 'who had given no proper attention to
Christianity, and did not really know what it was.' Johnson was intimate
with Lord Shelburne's brother. _Ante_, ii. 282, note 3.

[601] Johnson being asked his opinion of this Essay, answered, 'Why,
Sir, we shall have the man come forth again; and as he has proved
Falstaff to be no coward, he may prove Iago to be a very good
character.' BOSWELL.

[602] A writer in the _European Magazine_, xxx. 160, says that Johnson
visited Lord Shelburne at Bowood. At dinner he repeated part of his
letter to Lord Chesterfield (_ante_, i. 261). A gentleman arrived late.
Shelburne, telling him what he had missed, went on:-'I dare say the
Doctor will be kind enough to give it to us again.' 'Indeed, my Lord, I
will not. I told the circumstance first for my own amusement, but I will
not be dragged in as story-teller to a company.' In an argument he used
some strong expressions, of which his opponent took no notice, Next
morning 'he went up to the gentleman with great good-nature, and said,
"Sir, I have found out upon reflection that I was both warm and wrong in
my argument with you last night; for the first of which I beg your
pardon, and for the second, I thank you for setting me right."' It is
clear that the second of these anecdotes is the same as that told by Mr.
Morgann of Johnson and himself, and that the scene has been wrongly
transferred from Wickham to Bowood. The same writer says that it was
between Derrick and Boyce--not Derrick and Smart--that Johnson, in the
story that follows, could not settle the precedency.

[603] See ante, i. 124, 394.

[604] See ante, i. 397.

[605] What the great TWALMLEY was so proud of having invented, was
neither more nor less than a kind of box-iron for smoothing
linen. BOSWELL.


     'Hic manus ob patriam pugnando vulnera passi,
     Quique sacerdotes casti, dum vita manebat,
     Quique pii vates et Phoebo digna locuti,
     Inventas aut qui vitam excoluere per artes.'

     _Aeneid_, vi. 660.

     'Lo, they who in their country's fight
       sword-wounded bodies bore;
     Lo, priests of holy life and chaste,
       while they in life had part;
     Lo, God-loved poets, men who spake
       things worthy Phoebus' heart,
     And they who bettered life on earth
       by new-found mastery.'

MORRIS. Virgil, _Aeneids_, vi. 660. The great Twalmley might have
justified himself by _The Rambler_, No. 9:--'Every man, from the
highest to the lowest station, ought to warm his heart and animate his
endeavours with the hopes of being useful to the world, by advancing the
art which it is his lot to exercise; and for that end he must
necessarily consider the whole extent of its application, and the whole
weight of its importance.... Every man ought to endeavour at eminence,
not by pulling others down, but by raising himself, and enjoy the
pleasure of his own superiority, whether imaginary or real, without
interrupting others in the same felicity.' All this is what Twalmley
did. He adorned an art, he endeavoured at eminence, and he inoffensively
enjoyed the pleasure of his own superiority. He could also have defended
himself by the example of Aeneas, who, introducing himself, said:--

     'Sum pius Aeneas .....
     ... fama super aethera notus.'

_Aeneid_, i. 378. I fear that Twalmley met with the neglect that so
commonly befalls inventors. In the _Gent. Mag_. 1783, p. 719, I find in
the list of 'B-nk-ts,' Josiah Twamley, the elder, of Warwick,

[607] 'Sir, Hume is a Tory by chance, as being a Scotchman; but not upon
a principle of duty, for he has no principle. If he is anything, he is a
Hobbist.' Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 30. Horace Walpole's opinion was
very different. 'Are not atheism and bigotry first cousins? Was not
Charles II. an atheist and a bigot? and does Mr. Hume pluck a stone from
a church but to raise an altar to tyranny?' _Letters_, v. 444. Hume
wrote in 1756:--'My views of _things_ are more conformable to Whig
principles; my representations of _persons_ to Tory prejudices.' J.H.
Burton's _Hume_, ii. 11. Hume's Toryism increased with years. He says in
his _Autobiography/_ (p. xi.) that all the alterations which he made in
the later editions of his _History of the Stuarts_, 'he made invariably
to the Tory side.' Dr. Burton gives instances of these; _Life of Hume_,
ii. 74. Hume wrote in 1763 that he was 'too much infected with the
plaguy prejudices of Whiggism when he began the work.' _Ib_. p. 144. In
1770 he wrote:--'I either soften or expunge many villainous, seditious
Whig strokes which had crept into it.' _Ib_. p. 434. This growing hatred
of Whiggism was, perhaps, due to pique. John Home, in his notes of
Hume's talk in the last weeks of his life, says: 'He recurred to a
subject not unfrequent with him--that is, the design to ruin him as an
author, by the people that were ministers at the first publication of
his _History_, and called themselves Whigs.' _Ib_. p. 500. As regards
America, Hume was with the Whigs, as Johnson had perhaps learnt from
their common friend, Mr. Strahan. 'He was,' says Dr. Burton, 'far more
tolerant of the sway of individuals over numbers, which he looked upon
as the means of preserving order and civilization, than of the
predominance of one territory over another, which he looked upon as
subjugation.' _Ib_. p. 477. Quite at the beginning of the struggle he
foretold that the Americans would not be subdued, unless they broke in
pieces among themselves. _Ib_. p. 482. He was not frightened by the
prospect of the loss of our supremacy. He wrote to Adam Smith:--'My
notion is that the matter is not so important as is commonly imagined.
Our navigation and general commerce may suffer more than our
manufactures.' _Ib_. p. 484. Johnson's charge against Hume that he had
no principle, is, no doubt, a gross one; yet Hume's advice to a
sceptical young clergyman, who had good hope of preferment, that he
should therefore continue in orders, was unprincipled enough. 'It is,'
he wrote, 'putting too great a respect on the vulgar and on their
superstitions to pique one's self on sincerity with regard to them. Did
ever one make it a point of honour to speak truth to children or madmen?
If the thing were worthy being treated gravely, I should tell him that
the Pythian oracle, with the approbation of Xenophon, advised every one
to worship the gods--[Greek: nomo poleos]. I wish it were still in my
power to be a hypocrite in this particular. The common duties of society
usually require it; and the ecclesiastical profession only adds a little
more to an innocent dissimulation, or rather simulation, without which
it is impossible to pass through the world.' _Ib/_. p. 187.

[608] Mrs. Piozzi (_Anec_. p. 48) says that Johnson told her that in
writing the story of Gelaleddin, the poor scholar (_Idler_, No. 75), who
thought to fight his way to fame by his learning and wit, 'he had his
own outset into life in his eye.' Gelaleddin describes how 'he was
sometimes admitted to the tables of the viziers, where he exerted his
wit and diffused his knowledge; but he observed that where, by endeavour
or accident he had remarkably excelled, he was seldom invited a second
time.' See _ante_, p. 116.

[609] See ante, p. 115.

[610] Bar. BOSWELL.

[611] Nard. BOSWELL.

[612] Barnard. BOSWELL.

[613] It was reviewed in the _Gent. Mag_. 1781, p. 282, where it is said
to have been written by Don Gabriel, third son of the King of Spain.

[614] Though 'you was' is very common in the authors of the last century
when one person was addressed, I doubt greatly whether Johnson ever so
expressed himself.

[615] See _ante_, i. 311.

[616] Horace Walpole (_Letters_ v. 85) says, 'Boswell, like Cambridge,
has a rage of knowing anybody that ever was talked of.' Miss Burney
records 'an old trick of Mr. Cambridge to his son George, when listening
to a dull story, in saying to the relator "Tell the rest of that to
George."' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, ii. 274. See _ante_, ii. 361.

[617] Virgil, _Eclogues_, i. 47.

[618] 'Mr. Johnson,' writes Mrs. Piozzi (_Anec_. p. 21), 'was
exceedingly disposed to the general indulgence of children, and was even
scrupulously and ceremoniously attentive not to offend them. He had
strongly persuaded himself of the difficulty people always find to erase
early impressions either of kindness or resentment.'

[619] _Ante_, ii.171, iv.75; also _post_, May 15, 1784.

[620] Johnson, on May 1, 1780, wrote of the exhibition dinner:--'The
apartments were truly very noble. The pictures, for the sake of a
sky-light, are at the top of the house; there we dined, and I sat over
against the Archbishop of York. See how I live when I am not under
petticoat government.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 111. It was Archbishop
Markham whom he met; he is mentioned by Boswell in his _Hebrides, post_,
v. 37. In spite of the 'elaboration of homage' Johnson could judge
freely of an archbishop. He described the Archbishop of Tuam as 'a man
coarse of voice and inelegant of language.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 300.

[621] By Lord Perceval, afterwards Earl of Egmont. He carried, writes
Horace Walpole (_Letters_, ii. 144), 'the Westminster election at the
end of my father's ministry, which he amply described in the history of
his own family, a genealogical work called the _History of the House of
Yvery_, a work which cost him three thousand pounds; and which was so
ridiculous, that he has since tried to suppress all the copies. It
concluded with the description of the Westminster election, in these or
some such words:--"And here let us leave this young nobleman struggling
for the dying liberties of his country."'

[622] Five days earlier Johnson made the following entry in his
Diary:--'1783, April 5. I took leave of Mrs. Thrale. I was much moved. I
had some expostulations with her. She said that she was likewise
affected. I commended the Thrales with great good-will to God; may my
petitions have been heard.' Hawkins's _Life_, p. 553. This was not 'a
formal taking of leave,' as Hawkins says. She was going to Bath (Mme.
D'Arblay's _Diary_, ii. 264). On May-day he wrote to her on the death of
one of her little girls:--'I loved her, for she was Thrale's and yours,
and, by her dear father's appointment, in some sort mine: I love you
all, and therefore cannot without regret see the phalanx broken, and
reflect that you and my other dear girls are deprived of one that was
born your friend. To such friends every one that has them has recourse
at last, when it is discovered and discovered it seldom fails to be,
that the fortuitous friendships of inclination or vanity are at the
mercy of a thousand accidents.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 255. He was sadly
thinking how her friendship for him was rapidly passing away.

[623] Johnson modestly ended his account of the tour by saying:--'I
cannot but be conscious that my thoughts on national manners are the
thoughts of one who has seen but little.' _Works_, ix. 161. See
Boswell's _Hebrides_, Nov. 22.

[624] See _ib_. Oct. 21.

[625] She says that he was 'the genuine author of the first volume. An
ingenious physician,' she continues, 'with the assistance of several
others, continued the work until the eighth volume.' Mrs. Manley's
_History of her own Life and Times_, p. 15--a gross, worthless book.
Swift satirised her in _Corinna, a Ballad_. Swift's _Works_ (1803),
x. 94.

[626] The real authour was I. P. Marana, a Genoese, who died at Paris in
1693. John Dunton in his _Life_ says, that Mr. _William Bradshaw_
received from Dr. Midgeley forty shillings a sheet for writing part of
the _Turkish Spy_; but I do not find that he any where mentions _Sault_
as engaged in that work. MALONE.

[627] See _ante_, ii. 355, iii. 46, and iv. 139.

[628] This was in June, 1783, and I find in Mr. Windham's private diary
(which it seems this conversation induced him to keep) the following
memoranda of Dr. Johnson's advice: 'I have no great timidity in my own
disposition, and am no encourager of it in others. Never be afraid to
think yourself fit for any thing for which your friends think you fit.
_You will become an able negotiator--a very pretty rascal_. No one in
Ireland wears even the mask of incorruption; no one professes to do for
sixpence what he can get a shilling for doing. Set sail, and see where
the winds and the waves will carry you. Every day will improve another.
_Dies diem docet_, by observing at night where you failed in the day,
and by resolving to fail so no more.' CROKER. The Whigs thought he made
'a very pretty rascal' in a very different way. On his opposition to
Whitbread's bill for establishing parochial schools, Romilly wrote
(_Life_, ii. 2l6), 'that a man so enlightened as Windham should take the
same side (which he has done most earnestly) would excite great
astonishment, if one did not recollect his eager opposition a few months
ago to the abolition of the slave trade.' He was also 'most strenuous in
opposition' to Romilly's bill for repealing the act which made it a
capital offence to steal to the amount of forty shillings in a
dwelling-house, _Ib_. p. 316.

[629] We accordingly carried our scheme into execution, in October,
1792; but whether from that uniformity which has in modern times, in a
great degree, spread through every part of the Metropolis, or from our
want of sufficient exertion, we were disappointed. BOSWELL.

[630] Piozzi's _Anecdotes_, p. 193. See _post_, under June 30, 1784.

[631] Northcote (_Life of Reynolds_, ii. 139-143) says that the picture,
which was execrable beyond belief, was exhibited in an empty room. Lowe,
in 1769 (not in 1771 as Northcote says), gained the gold medal of the
Academy for the best historical picture. (_Gent. Mag_. 1770, p. 587.)
Northcote says that the award was not a fair one. He adds that Lowe,
being sent to Rome by the patronage of the Academy, was dissatisfied
with the sum allowed him. 'When Sir Joshua said that he knew from
experience that it was sufficient, Lowe pertly answered "that it was
possible for a man to live on guts and garbage."' He died at an obscure
lodging in Westminster, in 1793. There is, wrote Miss Burney, 'a certain
poor wretch of a villainous painter, one Mr. Lowe, whom Dr. Johnson
recommends to all the people he thinks can afford to sit for their
picture. Among these he applied to Mr. Crutchley [one of Mr. Thrale's
executors]. "But now," said Mr. Crutchley to me, "I have not a notion of
sitting for my picture--for who wants it? I may as well give the man
the money without; but no, they all said that would not do so well, and
Dr. Johnson asked me to give _him_ my picture." "And I assure you, Sir,"
says he, "I shall put it in very good company, for I have portraits of
some very respectable people in my dining-room." After all I could say I
was obliged to go to the painter's. And I found him in such a condition!
a room all dirt and filth, brats squalling and wrangling... "Oh!" says
I, "Mr. Lowe, I beg your pardon for running away, but I have just
recollected another engagement; so I poked three guineas in his hand,
and told him I would come again another time, and then ran out of the
house with all my might."' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, ii.41. A
correspondent of the _Examiner_ writing on May 28, 1873, said that he
had met one of Lowe's daughters, 'who recollected,' she told him, 'when
a child, sitting on Dr. Johnson's knee and his making her repeat the
Lord's Prayer.' She was Johnson's god-daughter. By a committee
consisting of Milman, Thackeray, Dickens, Carlyle and others, an annuity
fund for her and her sister was raised. Lord Palmerston gave a large

[632] See _post_, May 15, 1783.

[633] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, _post_, v. 48.

[634] See _ante_, p. 171.

[635] Quoted by Boswell, _ante_, iii. 324.

[636] It is suggested to me by an anonymous Annotator on my Work, that
the reason why Dr. Johnson collected the peels of squeezed oranges may
be found in the 58th [358th] Letter in Mrs. Piozzi's _Collection_, where
it appears that he recommended 'dried orange-peel, finely powdered,' as
a medicine. BOSWELL. See _ante_, ii. 330.

[637] There are two mistakes in this calculation, both perhaps due to
Boswell. _Eighty-four_ should be _eighty-eight_, and square-yards should
be _yards square_. 'If a wall cost £1000 a mile, £100 would build 176
yards of wall, which would form a square of 44 yards, and enclose an
area of 1936 square yards; and £200 would build 352 yards of wall, which
would form a square of 88 yards, and inclose an area of 7744 square
yards. The cost of the wall in the latter case, as compared with the
space inclosed, would therefore be reduced to one half.' _Notes and
Queries_, 1st S. x. 471.

[638] See _ante_, i. 318.

[639] 'Davies observes, in his account of Ireland, that no Irishman had
ever planted an orchard.' Johnson's _Works_, ix.7. 'At Fochabars [in the
Highlands] there is an orchard, which in Scotland I had never seen
before.' _Ib._ p. 21.

[640] Miss Burney this year mentions meeting 'Mr. Walker, the lecturer.
Though modest in science, he is vulgar in conversation.' Mme. D'Arblay's
_Diary_, ii. 237. Johnson quotes him, _Works_, viii. 474.

[641] 'Old Mr. Sheridan' was twelve years younger than Johnson. For his
oratory, see _ante_, i. 453, and _post_, April 28 and May 17, 1783.

[642] See _ante_, i. 358, when Johnson said of Sheridan:--'His voice
when strained is unpleasing, and when low is not always heard.'

[643] See _ante_, iii. 139.

[644] 'A more magnificent funeral was never seen in London,' wrote
Murphy (_Life of Garrick_, p. 349). Horace Walpole (_Letters_, vii.
169), wrote on the day of the funeral:--'I do think the pomp of
Garrick's funeral perfectly ridiculous. It is confounding the immense
space between pleasing talents and national services.' He added, 'at
Lord Chatham's interment there were not half the noble coaches that
attended Garrick's.' _Ib_. p. 171. In his _Journal of the Reign of
George III_ (ii. 333), he says:--'The Court was delighted to see a more
noble and splendid appearance at the interment of a comedian than had
waited on the remains of the great Earl of Chatham.' Bishop Horne
(_Essays and Thoughts_, p. 283) has some lines on 'this grand parade of
woe,' which begin:--

     'Through weeping London's crowded streets,
        As Garrick's funeral passed,
      Contending wits and nobles strove,
        Who should forsake him last.
      Not so the world behaved to _him_
        Who came that world to save,
      By solitary Joseph borne
        Unheeded to his grave.'

Johnson wrote on April 30, 1782: 'Poor Garrick's funeral expenses are
yet unpaid, though the undertaker is broken.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 239.
Garrick was buried on Feb. 1, 1779, and had left his widow a large
fortune. Chatham died in May, 1778.

[645] Boswell had heard Johnson maintain this; _ante_, ii. 101.

[646] See _post_, p. 238, note 2.

[647] This duel was fought on April 21, between Mr. Riddell of the
Horse-Grenadiers, and Mr. Cunningham of the Scots Greys. Riddell had the
first fire, and shot Cunningham through the breast. After a pause of two
minutes Cunningham returned the fire, and gave Riddell a wound of which
he died next day. _Gent. Mag._ 1783, p. 362. Boswell's grandfather's
grandmother was a Miss Cunningham. Rogers's _Boswelliana_, p. 4. I do
not know that there was any nearer connection. In Scotland, I suppose,
so much kindred as this makes two men 'near relations.'

[648] 'Unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the
other.' _St. Luke_, vi. 29. Had Miss Burney thought of this text, she
might have quoted it with effect against Johnson, who, criticising her
_Evelina_, said:--'You write Scotch, you say "the one,"--my dear,
that's not English. Never use that phrase again.' Mme. D'Arblay's
_Diary_, i. 84.

[649] 'Turn not thou away.' _St. Matthew_, v. 42.

[650] I think it necessary to caution my readers against concluding that
in this or any other conversation of Dr. Johnson, they have his serious
and deliberate opinion on the subject of duelling. In my _Journal of a
Tour to the Hebrides_, 3 ed. p. 386 [p. 366, Oct. 24], it appears that
he made this frank confession:--'Nobody at times, talks more laxly than
I do;' and, _ib_. p. 231 [Sept. 19, 1773], 'He fairly owned he could not
explain the rationality of duelling.' We may, therefore, infer, that he
could not think that justifiable, which seems so inconsistent with the
spirit of the Gospel. At the same time it must be confessed, that from
the prevalent notions of honour, a gentleman who receives a challenge is
reduced to a dreadful alternative. A remarkable instance of this is
furnished by a clause in the will of the late Colonel Thomas, of the
Guards, written the night before he fell in a duel, Sept. 3, 1783:--'In
the first place, I commit my soul to Almighty GOD, in hopes of his mercy
and pardon for the irreligious step I now (in compliance with the
unwarrantable customs of this wicked world) put myself under the
necessity of taking.' BOSWELL. See _ante_, ii. 179.

[651] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Aug. 24 and Sept. 20. Dr. Franklin
(_Memoirs_, i. 177) says that when the assembly at Philadelphia, the
majority of which were Quakers, was asked by New England to supply
powder for some garrison, 'they would not grant money to buy powder,
because that was an ingredient of war; but they voted an aid of £3000 to
be appropriated for the purchase of bread, flour, wheat, or _other
grain_.' The Governor interpreted _other grain_ as gunpowder, without
any objection ever being raised.

[652] 'A gentleman falling off his horse brake his neck, which sudden
hap gave occasion of much speech of his former life, and some in this
judging world judged the worst. In which respect a good friend made this
good epitaph, remembering that of Saint Augustine, _Misericordia Domini
inter pontem et fontem_.

     "My friend judge not me,
      Thou seest I judge not thee;
      Betwixt the stirrop and the ground,
      Mercy I askt, mercy I found."'

_Camden's Remains_, ed. 1870, p. 420.

[653] 'In sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life.'

[654] Upon this objection the Reverend Mr. Ralph Churton, Fellow of
Brazennose College, Oxford, has favoured me with the following
satisfactory observation:--'The passage in the Burial-service does not
mean the resurrection of the person interred, but the general
resurrection; it is in sure and certain hope of _the_ resurrection; not
_his_ resurrection. Where the deceased is really spoken of, the
expression is very different, "as our hope is this our brother doth"
[rest in Christ]; a mode of speech consistent with every thing but
absolute certainty that the person departed doth _not_ rest in Christ,
which no one can be assured of, without immediate revelation from
Heaven. In the first of these places also, "eternal life" does not
necessarily mean eternity of bliss, but merely the eternity of the
state, whether in happiness or in misery, to ensue upon the
resurrection; which is probably the sense of "the life everlasting," in
the Apostles' Creed. See _Wheatly and Bennet on the Common
Prayer_.' BOSWELL.

[655] Six days earlier the Lord-Advocate Dundas had brought in a bill
for the Regulation of the Government of India. Hastings, he said, should
be recalled. His place should be filled by 'a person of independent
fortune, who had not for object the repairing of his estate in India,
that had long been the nursery of ruined and decayed fortunes.' _Parl.
Hist_. xxiii. 757. Johnson wrote to Dr. Taylor on Nov. 22 of this
year:--'I believe corruption and oppression are in India at an enormous
height, but it has never appeared that they were promoted by the
Directors, who, I believe, see themselves defrauded, while the country
is plundered; but the distance puts their officers out of reach.' _Notes
and Queries_, 6th S. v. 482. See _ante_, p. 66.

[656] See _ante_, p. 113.

[657] Stockdale (_Memoirs_, ii. 57) says that, in 1770, the payment to
writers in the _Critical Review_ was two guineas a sheet, but that some
of the writers in _The Monthly Review_ received four guineas a sheet. As
these Reviews were octavos, each sheet contained sixteen pages. Lord
Jeffrey says that the writers in the _Edinburgh Review_ were at first
paid ten guineas a sheet. 'Not long after the _minimum_ was raised to
sixteen guineas, at which it remained during my reign, though two-thirds
of the articles were paid much higher--averaging, I should think, from
twenty to twenty-five guineas a sheet on the whole number.' Cockburn's
_Jeffrey_, i. 136.

[658] See ante, ii. 344.

[659] See _ante_, iii.32.

[660] See _ante_, p. 206.

[661] _Monday_ is no doubt put by mistake for _Tuesday_, which was the
29th. Boswell had spent a considerable part of Monday the 28th with
Johnson (_ante_, p. 211).


     'A fugitive from Heaven and prayer,
      I mocked at all religious fear.'
FRANCIS. Horace, _Odes_, i.34. 1.

[663] He told Boswell (_ante_, i. 68) that he had been a sort of lax
talker against religion for some years before he went to Oxford, but
that there he took up Law's _Serious Call_ and found it quite an
overmatch for him. 'This,' he said, 'was the first occasion of my
thinking in earnest of religion after I became capable of rational
enquiry.' During the vacation of 1729 he had a serious illness (_ante_,
i. 63), which most likely was 'the sickness that brought religion back.'

[664] See _ante_, i. 93, 164, and _post_, under Dec. 2, 1784.

[665] Mr. Langton. See _ante_, ii. 254.

[666] See _ante_, ii. 249.

[667] Malloch continued to write his name thus, _after he came to
London_. His verses prefixed to the second edition of Thomson's _Winter_
are so subscribed. MALONE. 'Alias. A Latin word signifying otherwise;
as, Mallet, _alias_ Malloch; that is _otherwise_ Malloch.' The mention
of Mallet first comes in Johnson's own abridgment of his _Dictionary_.
In the earlier unabridged editions the definition concludes, 'often used
in the trials of criminals, whose danger has obliged them to change
their names; as Simpson _alias_ Smith, _alias_ Baker, &c.' For Mallet,
see _ante_, i. 268, and ii. 159.

[668] Perhaps Scott had this saying of Johnson's in mind when he made
Earl Douglas exclaim:--

     'At first in heart it liked me ill,
     When the King praised his clerkly skill.
     Thanks to St. Bothan, son of mine,
     Save Gawain, ne'er could pen a line.'
_Marmion_, canto vi. 15.

[669] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Sept. 10.

[670] Johnson often maintained this diffusion of learning. Thus he
wrote:--'The call for books was not in Milton's age what it is in the
present. To read was not then a general amusement; neither traders, nor
often gentlemen, thought themselves disgraced by ignorance. The women
had not then aspired to literature nor was every house supplied with a
closet of knowledge.' _Works_, vii. 107. He goes on to mention 'that
general literature which now pervades the nation through all its ranks.'
_Works_, p. 108. 'That general knowledge which now circulates in common
talk was in Addison's time rarely to be found. Men not professing
learning were not ashamed of ignorance; and, in the female world, any
acquaintance with books was distinguished only to be censured.' _Ib_.
p.470. 'Of the _Essay on Criticism_, Pope declared that he did not
expect the sale to be quick, because "not one gentleman in sixty, even
of liberal education, could understand it." The gentlemen, and the
education of that time, seem to have been of a lower character than they
are of this.' _Ib_. viii. 243. See _ante_, iii. 3, 254. Yet he
maintained that 'learning has decreased in England, because learning
will not do so much for a man as formerly.' Boswell's _Hebrides,
post_, v. 80.

[671] Malone describes a call on Johnson in the winter of this year:--'I
found him in his arm-chair by the fire-side, before which a few apples
were laid. He was reading. I asked him what book he had got. He said the
_History of Birmingham_. Local histories, I observed, were generally
dull. "It is true, Sir; but this has a peculiar merit with me; for I
passed some of my early years, and married my wife there." [See _ante_,
i. 96.] I supposed the apples were preparing as medicine. "Why, no, Sir;
I believe they are only there because I want something to do. These are
some of the solitary expedients to which we are driven by sickness. I
have been confined this week past; and here you find me roasting apples,
and reading the _History of Birmingham_."' Prior's _Malone_, p. 92.

[672] On April 19, he wrote:--'I can apply better to books than I could
in some more vigorous parts of my life--at least than I _did_; and I
have one more reason for reading--that time has, by taking away my
companions, left me less opportunity of conversation.' Croker's
_Boswell_, p. 727.

[673] He told Mr. Windham that he had never read the _Odyssey_ through
in the original. Windham's _Diary_, p. 17. 'Fox,' said Rogers (_Table
Talk_, p. 92), 'used to read Homer through once every year. On my asking
him, "Which poem had you rather have written, the _Iliad_ or the
_Odyssey_?" he answered, "I know which I had rather read" (meaning the

[674] 'Composition is, for the most part, an effort of slow diligence
and steady perseverance, to which the mind is dragged by necessity or
resolution, and from which the attention is every moment starting to
more delightful amusements.' Johnson's _Works_, iv. 145. Of Pope Johnson
wrote (_ib_. viii. 321):--'To make verses was his first labour, and to
mend them was his last. ... He was one of those few whose labour is
their pleasure.' Thomas Carlyle, in 1824, speaking of writing, says:--'I
always recoil from again engaging with it.' Froude's _Carlyle_, i. 213.
Five years later he wrote:--'Writing is a dreadful labour, yet not so
dreadful as _idleness_.' _Ib_. ii. 75. See _ante_, iii. 19.

[675] See _ante_, ii. 15.

[676] Miss Burney wrote to Mrs. Thrale in 1780:--'I met at Sir Joshua's
young Burke, who is made much ado about, but I saw not enough of him to
know why.' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, i. 416. Mrs. Thrale replied:--'I
congratulate myself on being quite of your opinion concerning Burke the
minor, whom I once met and could make nothing of.' _Ib_. p. 418. Miss
Hawkins (_Memoirs_, i. 304) reports, on Langton's authority, that Burke
said:--'How extraordinary it is that I, and Lord Chatham, and Lord
Holland, should each have a son so superior to ourselves.'

[677] Cruikshank, not Cruikshanks (see _post_, under Sept. 18, 1783, and
Sept. 4 1784). He had been Dr. Hunter's partner; he was not elected
(_Gent. Mag._ 1783, p. 626). Northcote, in quoting this letter, says
that 'Sir Joshua's influence in the Academy was not always answerable to
his desire. "Those who are of some importance everywhere else," he said,
"find themselves nobody when they come to the Academy."' Northcote's
_Reynolds_, ii. 145.

[678] William Hunter, scarcely less famous as a physician than his
youngest brother, John Hunter, as a surgeon.

[679] Let it be remembered by those who accuse Dr. Johnson of
illiberality that both were _Scotchmen_. BOSWELL.

[680] The following day he dined at Mrs. Garrick's. 'Poor Johnson,'
wrote Hannah More (_Memoirs_, i. 280), 'exerted himself exceedingly, but
he was very ill and looked so dreadfully, that it quite grieved me. He
is more mild and complacent than he used to be. His sickness seems to
have softened his mind, without having at all weakened it. I was struck
with the mild radiance of this setting sun.'

[681] In the winter of 1788-9 Boswell began a canvass of his own county,
He also courted Lord Lonsdale, in the hope of getting one of the seats
in his gift, who first fooled him and then treated him with great
brutality, _Letters of Boswell_, pp. 270, 294, 324.

[682] On April 6, 1780--'a day,' wrote Horace Walpole (_Letters_, vii.
345), 'that ought for ever to be a red-lettered day'--Mr. Dunning made
this motion. It was carried by 233 to 215. _Parl. Hist._ xxi. 340-367.

[683] See _ante_, i. 355, and ii. 94 for Johnson's appeal to meals as a
measure of vexation.

[684] Johnson defines _cant_ as '1. A corrupt dialect used by beggars
and vagabonds. 2. A particular form of speaking peculiar to some certain
class or body of men. 3. A whining pretension to goodness in formal and
affected terms. 4. Barbarous jargon. 5. Auction.' I have noted the
following instances of his use of the word:--'I betook myself to a
coffee-house frequented by wits, among whom I learned in a short time
the _cant_ of criticism.' _The Rambler_, No.123. 'Every class of society
has its _cant_ of lamentation.' _Ib_. No.128. 'Milton's invention
required no assistance from the common _cant_ of poetry.' _Ib_. No.140.
'We shall secure our language from being overrun with _cant_, from being
crowded with low terms, the spawn of folly or affectation.' _Works_, v.
II. 'This fugitive _cant_, which is always in a state of increase or
decay, cannot be regarded as any part of the durable materials of a
language.' _Ib_. p.45. In a note on I _Henry VI_, act iii. sc.1, he
says: 'To _roam_ is supposed to be derived from the _cant_ of vagabonds,
who often pretended a pilgrimage to Rome.' See _ante_, iii. 197, for
'modern _cant_.'

[685] 'Custom,' wrote Sir Joshua, 'or politeness, or courtly manners has
authorised such an eastern hyperbolical style of compliment, that part
of Dr. Johnson's character for rudeness of manners must be put to the
account of scrupulous adherence to truth. His obstinate silence, whilst
all the company were in raptures, vying with each other who should
pepper highest, was considered as rudeness or ill-nature.' Taylor's
_Reynolds_, ii. 458.

[686] 'The shame is to impose words for ideas upon ourselves or others.'
Johnson's _Works_, vi. 64. See _ante_, p.122, where he says: 'There is a
middle state of mind between conviction and hypocrisy.' Bacon, in his
_Essay of Truth_, says: 'It is not the lie that passeth through the
mind, but the lie that sinketh in and settleth in it, that doth
the hurt.'

[687] See _ante_, p. 204.

[688] 'I dined and lay at Harrison's, where I was received with that
old-fashioned breeding which is at once so honourable and so
troublesome.' Gibbon's _Misc. Works_, i. 144. Mr. Pleydell, in _Guy
Mannering_, ed. 1860, iv. 96, says: 'You'll excuse my old-fashioned
importunity. I was born in a time when a Scotchman was thought
inhospitable if he left a guest alone a moment, except when he slept.'

[689] See _ante_, ii. 167.

[690] See _ante_, i. 387.

[691] In Johnson's _Works_, ed. 1787, xi. 197, it is recorded that
Johnson said, 'Sheridan's writings on elocution were a continual
renovation of hope, and an unvaried succession of disappointments.'
According to the _Gent. Mag._ 1785, p. 288, he continued:--'If we
should have a bad harvest this year, Mr. Sheridan would say:--"It was
owing to the neglect of oratory."' See _ante_, p. 206.

[692] Burke, no doubt, was this 'bottomless Whig.' When Johnson said 'so
they _all_ are now,' he was perhaps thinking of the Coalition Ministry
in which Lord North and his friends had places.

[693] No doubt Burke, who was Paymaster of the Forces. He is Boswell's
'eminent friend.' See _ante_ ii.222, and _post_, Dec. 24, 1783, and
Jan.8, 1784. In these two consecutive paragraphs, though two people seem
to be spoken of, yet only one is in reality.

[694] I believe that Burke himself was present part of the time, and
that he was the gentleman who 'talked of _retiring_. On May 19 and 21 he
had in Parliament defended his action in restoring to office two clerks,
Powell and Bembridge, who had been dismissed by his predecessor, and he
had justified his reforms in the Paymaster's office. 'He awaited,' he
said, the 'judgement of the House. ...If they so far differed in
sentiment, he had only to say, _Nunc dimittis servum tuum.' Parl. Hist._

[695] A copy of _Evelina_ had been placed in the Bodleian. 'Johnson
says,' wrote Miss Burney, 'that when he goes to Oxford he will write my
name in the books, and my age when I writ them, and then,' he says, 'the
world may know that we _So mix our studies, and so joined our fame._ For
we shall go down hand in hand to posterity.' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_,
i.429. The oldest copy of _Evelina_ now in the Bodleian is of an edition
published after Johnson's death. Miss Burney, in 1793, married General
D'Arblay, a French refugee.

[696] Macaulay maintained that Johnson had a hand in the composition of
_Cecilia_. He quotes a passage from it, and says:--'We say with
confidence, either Sam. Johnson or the Devil.' (_Essays_, ed. 1874, iv.
157.) That he is mistaken is shown by Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_ (ii. 172).
'Ay,' cried Dr. Johnson, 'some people want to make out some credit to me
from the little rogue's book. I was told by a gentleman this morning
that it was a very fine book, if it was all her own.' "It is all her
own," said I, "for me, I am sure, for I never saw one word of it before
it was printed."' On p. 196 she records the following:--'SIR JOSHUA.
"Gibbon says he read the whole five volumes in a day." "'Tis
impossible," cried Mr. Burke, "it cost me three days; and you know I
never parted with it from the day I first opened it."' See _post_, among
the imitators of Johnson's style, under Dec. 6, 1784.

[697] In Mr. Barry's printed analysis, or description of these pictures,
he speaks of Johnson's character in the highest terms. BOSWELL. Barry,
in one of his pictures, placed Johnson between the two beautiful
duchesses of Rutland and Devonshire, pointing to their Graces Mrs.
Montagu as an example. He expresses his 'reverence for his consistent,
manly, and well-spent life.' Barry's _Works_, ii. 339. Johnson, in his
turn, praises 'the comprehension of Barry's design.' _Piozzi Letters_,
ii. 256. He was more likely to understand it, as the pictures formed a
series, meant 'to illustrate one great maxim of moral truth, viz. that
the obtaining of happiness depends upon cultivating the human faculties.
We begin with man in a savage state full of inconvenience, imperfection,
and misery, and we follow him through several gradations of culture and
happiness, which, after our probationary state here, are finally
attended with beatitude or misery.' Barry's _Works_, ii. 323. Horace
Walpole (_Letters_, viii. 366) describes Barry's book as one 'which does
not want sense, though full of passion and self, and vulgarisms
and vanity.'

[698] Boswell had tried to bring about a third meeting between Johnson
and Wilkes. On May 21 he wrote:--'Mr. Boswell's compliments to Mr.
Wilkes. He finds that it would not be unpleasant to Dr. Johnson to dine
at Mr. Wilkes's. The thing would be so curiously benignant, it were a
pity it should not take place. Nobody but Mr. Boswell should be asked to
meet the doctor.' An invitation was sent, but the following answer was
returned:--'May 24, 1783. Mr. Johnson returns thanks to Mr. and Miss
Wilkes for their kind invitation; but he is engaged for Tuesday to Sir
Joshua Reynolds, and for Wednesday to Mr. Paradise.' Owing to Boswell's
return to Scotland, another day could not be fixed. Almon's _Wilkes_,
iv. 314, 321.

[699] 'If the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the
place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.' _Ecclesiastes_, xi. 3.

[700] 'When a tree is falling, I have seen the labourers, by a trivial
jerk with a rope, throw it upon the spot where they would wish it should
lie. Divines, understanding this text too literally, pretend, by a
little interposition in the article of death, to regulate a person's
everlasting happiness. I fancy the allusion will hardly countenance
their presumption.' Shenstone's _Works_, ed. 1773, ii. 255.

[701] Hazlitt says that 'when old Baxter first went to Kidderminster to
preach, he was almost pelted by the women for maintaining from the
pulpit the then fashionable and orthodox doctrine, that "Hell was paved
with infants' skulls.'" _Conversations of Northcote_, p. 80.

[702] _Acts_, xvii. 24.

[703] Now the celebrated Mrs. Crouch. BOSWELL.

[704] Mr. Windham was at this time in Dublin, Secretary to the Earl of
Northington, then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. BOSWELL. See
_ante_, p.200.

[705] Son of Mr. Samuel Paterson. BOSWELL. See _ante_, iii.90, and
_post_, April 5, 1784.

[706] The late Keeper of the Royal Academy. He died on Jan. 23 of this
year. Reynolds wrote of him:--'He may truly be said in every sense, to
have been the father of the present race of artists.' Northcote's
_Reynolds_ ii.137.

[707] Mr. Allen was his landlord and next neighbour in Bolt-court.
_Ante_, iii. 141.

[708] Cowper mentions him in _Retirement_:--

     'Virtuous and faithful Heberden! whose skill
      Attempts no task it cannot well fulfill,
      Gives melancholy up to nature's care,
      And sends the patient into purer air.'

      Cowper's _Poems_, ed. 1786, i. 272.

He is mentioned also by Priestley (_Auto._ ed. 1810, p.66) as one of his
chief benefactors. Lord Eldon, when almost a briefless barrister,
consulted him. 'I put my hand into my pocket, meaning to give him his
fee; but he stopped me, saying, "Are you the young gentleman who gained
the prize for the essay at Oxford?" I said I was. "I will take no fee
from you." I often consulted him; but he would never take a fee.'
Twiss's _Eldon_, i. 104.

[709] How much he had physicked himself is shewn by a letter of May 8.
'I took on Thursday,' he writes, 'two brisk catharticks and a dose of
calomel. Little things do me no good. At night I was much better. Next
day cathartick again, and the third day opium for my cough. I lived
without flesh all the three days.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii.257. He had been
bled at least four times that year and had lost about fifty ounces of
blood. _Ante_, pp.142, 146. On Aug. 3, 1779, he wrote:--'Of the last
fifty days I have taken mercurial physick, I believe, forty.' _Notes and
Queries_, 6th S. v.461.

[710] An exact reprint of this letter is given by Professor Mayor in
_Notes and Queries_, 6th S. v.481. The omissions and the repetitions
'betray,' he says, 'the writer's agitation.' The postscript Boswell had
omitted. It is as follows:--'Dr. Brocklesby will be with me to meet Dr.
Heberden, and I shall have previously make (sic) master of the case as
well as I can.'

[711] Vol. ii. p.268, of Mrs. Thrale's _Collection_. BOSWELL. The
beginning of the letter is very touching:--'I am sitting down in no
cheerful solitude to write a narrative which would once have affected
you with tenderness and sorrow, but which you will perhaps pass over now
with the careless glance of frigid indifference. For this diminution of
regard, however, I know not whether I ought to blame you, who may have
reasons which I cannot know, and I do not blame myself, who have for a
great part of human life done you what good I could, and have never done
you evil.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 268. 'I have loved you,' he continued,
'with virtuous affection; I have honoured you with sincere esteem. Let
not all our endearments be forgotten, but let me have in this great
distress your pity and your prayers. You see I yet turn to you with my
complaints as a settled and unalienable friend; do not, do not drive me
from you, for I have not deserved either neglect or hatred.'
_Ib._ p.271.

[712] On Aug. 20 he wrote:--'I sat to Mrs. Reynolds yesterday for my
picture, perhaps the tenth time, and I sat near three hours with the
patience of _mortal born to bear_; at last she declared it quite
finished, and seems to think it fine. I told her it was _Johnson's
grimly ghost_. It is to be engraved, and I think _in glided_, &c., will
be a good inscription.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 302. Johnson is quoting
from Mallet's ballad of _Margaret's Ghost_:--

     'Twas at the silent solemn hour,
      When night and morning meet;
      In glided Margaret's grimly ghost,
      And stood at William's feet.'

      _Percy Ballads_, in. 3, 16.

According to Northcote, Reynolds said of his sister's oil-paintings,
'they made other people laugh and him cry.' 'She generally,' Northcote
adds, 'did them by stealth.' _Life of Reynolds_, ii. 160.

[713] 'Nocte, inter 16 et 17 Junii, 1783.

     Summe pater, quodcunque tuum de corpore Numen
       Hoc statuat, precibus Christus adesse velit:
     Ingenio parcas, nee sit mihi culpa rogasse,
       Qua solum potero parte placere tibi.'

     _Works_, i.159.

[714] According to the _Gent. Mag_. 1783, p.542, Dr. Lawrence died at
Canterbury on June 13 of this year, his second son died on the 15th.
But, if we may trust Munk's _Roll of the College of Physicians_, ii.153,
on the father's tomb-stone, June 6 is given as the day of his death. Mr.
Croker gives June 17 as the date, and June 19 as the day of the son's
death, and is puzzled accordingly.

[715] Poor Derrick, however, though he did not himself introduce me to
Dr. Johnson as he promised, had the merit of introducing me to Davies,
the immediate introductor. BOSWELL. See _ante_, i.385, 391.

[716] Miss Burney, calling on him the next morning, offered to make his
tea. He had given her his own large arm-chair which was too heavy for
her to move to the table. '"Sir," quoth she, "I am in the wrong chair."
"It is so difficult," cried he with quickness, "for anything to be wrong
that belongs to you, that it can only be I that am in the wrong chair to
keep you from the right one."' Dr. Burney's _Memoirs_, ii. 345.

[717] His Lordship was soon after chosen, and is now a member of THE
CLUB. BOSWELL. He was father of the future prime-minister, who was born
in the following year.

[718] He wrote on June 23:--'What man can do for man has been done for
me.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii.278. Murphy (_Life_, p. 121) says that,
visiting him during illness, he found him reading Dr. Watson's
_Chymistry_ (_ante_, p. 118). 'Articulating with difficulty he
said:--"From this book he who knows nothing may learn a great deal, and
he who knows will be pleased to find his knowledge recalled to his mind
in a manner highly pleasing."'

[719] 'I have, by the migration of one of my ladies, more peace at home;
but I remember an old savage chief that says of the Romans with great
indignation-_ubi solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant_ [_Tacitus,
Agricola_, c. xxx]. _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 259.

[720] 'July 23. I have been thirteen days at Rochester, and am just now
returned. I came back by water in a common boat twenty miles for a
shilling, and when I landed at Billingsgate, I carried my budget myself
to Cornhill before I could get a coach, and was not much incommoded'
_Ib_. ii.294. See _ante_, iv.8, 22, for mention of Rochester.

[721] Murphy (_Life_, p. 121) says that Johnson visited Oxford this
summer. Perhaps he was misled by a passage in the _Piozzi Letters_ (ii.
302) where Johnson is made to write:--'At Oxford I have just left
Wheeler.' For _left_ no doubt should be read _lost_. Wheeler died on
July 22 of this year. _Gent. Mag_. 1783, p. 629.

[722] This house would be interesting to Johnson, as in it Charles II,
'for whom he had an extraordinary partiality' (_ante_, ii. 341), lay hid
for some days after the battle of Worcester. Clarendon (vi. 540)
describes it 'as a house that stood alone from neighbours and from any
highway.' Charles was lodged 'in a little room, which had been made
since the beginning of the troubles for the concealment of delinquents.'

[723] 'I told Dr. Johnson I had heard that Mr. Bowles was very much
delighted with the expectation of seeing him, and he answered me:--"He
is so delighted that it is shocking. It is really shocking to see how
high are his expectations." I asked him why, and he said:--"Why, if any
man is expected to take a leap of twenty yards, and does actually take
one of ten, everybody will be disappointed, though ten yards may be more
than any other man ever leaped."' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, ii.260. On
Oct. 9, he wrote:--'Two nights ago Mr. Burke sat with me a long time.
We had both seen Stonehenge this summer for the first time.' _Piozzi
Letters_, ii.315.

[724] Salisbury is eighty-two miles from Cornhill by the old coach-road.
Johnson seems to have been nearly fifteen hours on the journey.

[725] 'Aug. 13, 1783. I am now broken with disease, without the
alleviation of familiar friendship or domestic society. I have no middle
state between clamour and silence, between general conversation and
self-tormenting solitude. Levett is dead, and poor Williams is making
haste to die.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii.301. 'Aug. 20. This has been a day
of great emotion; the office of the Communion of the Sick has been
performed in poor Mrs. Williams's chamber.' _Ib_. 'Sept. 22. Poor
Williams has, I hope, seen the end of her afflictions. She acted with
prudence and she bore with fortitude. She has left me.

     "Thou thy weary [worldly] task hast done,
      Home art gone and ta'en thy wages."

      [_Cymbeline_, act iv. sc. 2.]

Had she had good humour and prompt elocution, her universal curiosity
and comprehensive knowledge would have made her the delight of all that
knew her.' _Ib_. p. 311.

[726] Johnson (_Works_, viii. 354) described in 1756 such a companion as
he found in Mrs. Williams. He quotes Pope's _Epitaph on Mrs. Corbet_,
and continues:--'I have always considered this as the most valuable of
all Pope's epitaphs; the subject of it is a character not discriminated
by any shining or eminent peculiarities; yet that which really makes,
though not the splendour, the felicity of life, and that which every
wise man will choose for his final and lasting companion in the languor
of age, in the quiet of privacy, when he departs, weary and disgusted,
from the ostentatious, the volatile and the vain. Of such a character
which the dull overlook, and the gay despise, it was fit that the value
should be made known, and the dignity established.' See _ante_, i.232.

[727] _Pr. and Med_. p. 226. BOSWELL.

[728] I conjecture that Mr. Bowles is the friend. The account follows
close on the visit to his house, and contains a mention of Johnson's
attendance at a lecture at Salisbury.

[729] A writer in _Notes and Queries_, 1st S. xii. 149, says:--'Mr.
Bowles had married a descendant of Oliver Cromwell, viz. Dinah, the
fourth daughter of Sir Thomas Frankland, and highly valued himself upon
this connection with the Protector.' He adds that Mr. Bowles was an
active Whig.

[730] Mr. Malone observes, 'This, however, was certainly a mistake, as
appears from the _Memoirs_ published by Mr. Noble. Had Johnson been
furnished with the materials which the industry of that gentleman has
procured, and with others which, it it is believed, are yet preserved in
manuscript, he would, without doubt, have produced a most valuable and
curious history of Cromwell's life.' BOSWELL.

[731] See _ante_, ii.358, note 3.

[732] _Short Notes for Civil Conversation_. Spedding's _Bacon_, vii.109.

[733] 'When I took up his _Life of Cowley_, he made me put it away to
talk. I could not help remarking how very like he is to his writing, and
how much the same thing it was to hear or to read him; but that nobody
could tell that without coming to Streatham, for his language was
generally imagined to be laboured and studied, instead of the mere
common flow of his thoughts. "Very true," said Mrs. Thrale, "he writes
and talks with the same ease, and in the same manner."' Mme. D'Arblay's
_Diary_, i. 120. What a different account is this from that given by
Macaulay:--'When he talked he clothed his wit and his sense in forcible
and natural expressions. As soon as he took his pen in his hand to write
for the public, his style became systematically vicious.' Macaulay's
_Essays_, edit. 1843, i.404. See _ante_, ii.96, note; iv.183; and
_post_, the end of the vol.

[734] See _ante_, ii.125, iii.254, and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 14.

[735] Hume said:--'The French have more real politeness, and the English
the better method of expressing it. By real politeness I mean softness
of temper, and a sincere inclination to oblige and be serviceable, which
is very conspicuous in this nation, not only among the high, but low; in
so much that the porters and coachmen here are civil, and that, not only
to gentlemen, but likewise among themselves.' J.H. Burton's _Hume_,
i. 53.

[736] This is the third time that Johnson's disgust at this practice is
recorded. See _ante_, ii.403, and iii.352.

[737] See _ante_, iii.398, note 3.

[738] 'Sept. 22, 1783. The chymical philosophers have discovered a body
(which I have forgotten, but will enquire) which, dissolved by an acid,
emits a vapour lighter than the atmospherical air. This vapour is
caught, among other means, by tying a bladder compressed upon the body
in which the dissolution is performed; the vapour rising swells the
bladder and fills it. _Piozzi Letters_, ii.310. The 'body' was
iron-filings, the acid sulphuric acid, and the vapour nitrogen. The
other 'new kinds of air' were the gases discovered by Priestley.

[739] I do not wonder at Johnson's displeasure when the name of Dr.
Priestley was mentioned; for I know no writer who has been suffered to
publish more pernicious doctrines. I shall instance only three. First,
_Materialism_; by which _mind_ is denied to human nature; which, if
believed, must deprive us of every elevated principle. Secondly,
_Necessity_; or the doctrine that every action, whether good or bad, is
included in an unchangeable and unavoidable system; a notion utterly
subversive of moral government. Thirdly, that we have no reason to think
that the _future_ world, (which, as he is pleased to _inform_ us, will
be adapted to our _merely improved_ nature,) will be materially
different from _this_; which, if believed, would sink wretched mortals
into despair, as they could no longer hope for the 'rest that remaineth
for the people of GOD' [_Hebrews_, iv.9], or for that happiness which is
revealed to us as something beyond our present conceptions; but would
feel themselves doomed to a continuation of the uneasy state under which
they now groan. I say nothing of the petulant intemperance with which he
dares to insult the venerable establishments of his country.

As a specimen of his writings, I shall quote the following passage,
which appears to me equally absurd and impious, and which might have
been retorted upon him by the men who were prosecuted for burning his
house. 'I cannot, (says he,) as a _necessarian_, [meaning
_necessitarian_] hate _any man_; because I consider him as _being_, in
all respects, just what GOD has _made him to be_; and also as _doing
with respect to me_, nothing but what he was _expressly designed_ and
_appointed_ to do; GOD being the _only cause_, and men nothing more than
the _instruments_ in his hands to _execute all his pleasure_.'--
_Illustrations of Philosophical Necessity_, p. 111.

The Reverend Dr. Parr, in a late tract, appears to suppose that _'Dr.
Johnson not only endured, but almost solicited, an interview with Dr.
Priestley_. In justice to Dr. Johnson, I declare my firm belief that he
never did. My illustrious friend was particularly resolute in not giving
countenance to men whose writings he considered as pernicious to
society. I was present at Oxford when Dr. Price, even before he had
rendered himself so generally obnoxious by his zeal for the French
Revolution, came into a company where Johnson was, who instantly left
the room. Much more would he have reprobated Dr. Priestley. Whoever
wishes to see a perfect delineation of this _Literary Jack of all
Trades_, may find it in an ingenious tract, entitled, 'A SMALL
WHOLE-LENGTH OF DR. PRIESTLEY,' printed for Rivingtons, in St. Paul's
Church-Yard. BOSWELL. See Appendix B.

[740] Burke said, 'I have learnt to think _better_ of mankind.' _Ante_,

[741] He wrote to his servant Frank from Heale on Sept. l6:--'As
Thursday [the 18th] is my birthday I would have a little dinner got, and
would have you invite Mrs. Desmoulins, Mrs. Davis that was about Mrs.
Williams, and Mr. Allen, and Mrs. Gardiner.' Croker's _Boswell_, p.739.
See _ante_, iii.157, note 3.

[742] Dr. Burney had just lost Mr. Bewley, 'the Broom Gentleman'
(_ante_, p. 134), and Mr. Crisp. Dr. Burney's _Memoirs_, ii.323, 352.
For Mr. Crisp, see Macaulay's _Review_ of Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary.
Essays_, ed. 1874, iv.104.

[743] He wrote of her to Mrs. Montagu:--'Her curiosity was universal,
her knowledge was very extensive, and she sustained forty years of
misery with steady fortitude. Thirty years and more she had been my
companion, and her death has left me very desolate.' Croker's _Boswell_,
p. 739. This letter brought to a close his quarrel with Mrs. Montagu
(_ante_, p. 64).

[744] On Sept. 22 he wrote to Mrs. Thrale:--'If excision should be
delayed, there is danger of a gangrene. You would not have me for fear
of pain perish in putrescence. I shall, I hope, with trust in eternal
mercy, lay hold of the possibility of life which yet remains.' _Piozzi
Letters_, ii.312.

[745] Rather more than seven years ago. _Ante_, ii.82, note 2.

[746] Mrs. Anna Williams. BOSWELL.

[747] See _ante_, p. 163, and Boswell's _Hebrides_, Nov 2.

[748] Dated Oct. 27. _Piozzi Letters_, ii.321.

[749] According to Mrs. Piozzi (_Letters_, ii.387), he said to Mrs.
Siddons:--'You see, Madam, wherever you go there are no seats to be
got.' Sir Joshua also paid her a fine compliment. 'He never marked his
own name [on a picture],' says Northcote, 'except in the instance of
Mrs. Siddons's portrait as the Tragic Muse, when he wrote his name upon
the hem of her garment. "I could not lose," he said, "the honour this
opportunity offered to me for my name going down to posterity on the hem
of your garment."' Northcote's _Reynolds_, i. 246. In Johnson's _Works_,
ed. 1787, xi. 207, we read that 'he said of Mrs. Siddons that she
appeared to him to be one of the few persons that the two great
corrupters of mankind, money and reputation, had not spoiled.'

[750] 'Indeed, Dr. Johnson,' said Miss Monckton, 'you _must_ see Mrs.
Siddons.' 'Well, Madam, if you desire it, I will go. See her I shall
not, nor hear her; but I'll go, and that will do.' Mme. D'Arblay's
_Diary_, ii. 198.

[751] 'Mrs. Porter, the tragedian, was so much the favourite of her
time, that she was welcomed on the stage when she trod it by the help of
a stick.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 319.

[752] He said:--'Mrs. Clive was the best player I ever saw.' Boswell's
_Hebrides, post_, v. 126. See _ante_, p. 7. She was for many years the
neighbour and friend of Horace Walpole.

[753] She acted the heroine in _Irene. Ante_, i. 197. 'It is wonderful
how little mind she had,' he once said. _Ante_, ii. 348. See Boswell's
_Hebrides, post_, v. 126.

[754] See _ante_, iii. 183.

[755] See ante, iii. 184.

[756] 'Garrick's great distinction is his universality,' Johnson said.
'He can represent all modes of life, but that of an easy, fine-bred
gentleman.' Boswell's _Hebrides, post_, v. 126. See _ante_, iii. 35.
Horace Walpole wrote of Garrick in 1765 (_Letters_, iv. 335):--'Several
actors have pleased me more, though I allow not in so many parts. Quin
in Falstaff was as excellent as Garrick in _Lear_. Old Johnson far more
natural in everything he attempted; Mrs. Porter surpassed him in
passionate tragedy. Cibber and O'Brien were what Garrick could never
reach, coxcombs and men of fashion. Mrs. Clive is at least as perfect in
low comedy.'

[757] See _ante_, ii. 465.

[758] Mr. Kemble told Mr. Croker that 'Mrs. Siddons's pathos in the last
scene of _The Stranger_ quite overcame him, but he always endeavoured to
restrain any impulses which might interfere with his previous study of
his part.' Croker's _Boswell_, p. 742. Diderot, writing of the
qualifications of a great actor, says:--'Je lui veux beaucoup de
jugement; je le veux spectateur froid et tranquille de la nature
humaine; qu'il ait par conséquent beaucoup de finesse, mais nulle
sensibilité, ou, ce qui est la même chose, l'art de tout imiter, et une
égale aptitude à toutes sortes de caractères et de rôles; s'il était
sensible, il lui serait impossible de jouer dix fois de suite le même
rôle avec la même chaleur et le même succès; très chaud à la première
représentation, il serait épuisé et froid comme le marble à la
troisième,' &c. Diderot's _Works_ (ed. 1821), iii. 274. See Boswell's
_Hebrides, post_, v. 46.

[759] My worthy friend, Mr. John Nichols, was present when Mr.
Henderson, the actor, paid a visit to Dr. Johnson; and was received in a
very courteous manner. See _Gent. Mag_. June, 1791.

I found among Dr. Johnson's papers, the following letter to him, from
the celebrated Mrs. Bellamy [_ante_, i. 326]:--



'The flattering remembrance of the partiality you honoured me with, some
years ago, as well as the humanity you are known to possess, has
encouraged me to solicit your patronage at my Benefit.

'By a long Chancery suit, and a complicated train of unfortunate events,
I am reduced to the greatest distress; which obliges me, once more, to
request the indulgence of the publick.

'Give me leave to solicit the honour of your company, and to assure you,
if you grant my request, the gratification I shall feel, from being
patronized by Dr. Johnson, will be infinitely superiour to any advantage
that may arise from the Benefit; as I am, with the profoundest
respect, Sir,

'Your most obedient, humble servant, G. A. BELLAMY. No. 10 Duke-street,
St. James's, May 11, 1783.'

I am happy in recording these particulars, which prove that my
illustrious friend lived to think much more favourably of Players than
he appears to have done in the early part of his life. BOSWELL. Mr.
Nichols, describing Henderson's visit to Johnson, says:--'The
conversation turning on the merits of a certain dramatic writer, Johnson
said: "I never did the man an injury; but he would persist in reading
his tragedy to me."' _Gent. Mag_: 1791, p. 500.

[760] _Piozzi Letters_, vol. ii. p. 328. BOSWELL.

[761] _Piozzi Letters_, vol. ii. p. 342. BOSWELL. The letter to Miss
Thrale was dated Nov. 18. Johnson wrote on Dec. l3:--'You must all guess
again at my friend. It was not till Dec. 31 that he told the name.

[762] Miss Burney, who visited him on this day, records:--'He was, if
possible, more instructive, entertaining, good-humoured, and exquisitely
fertile than ever.' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, ii. 284. The day before he
wrote to one of Mrs. Thrale's little daughters:--'I live here by my own
self, and have had of late very bad nights; but then I have had a pig to
dinner which Mr. Perkins gave me. Thus life is chequered.' _Piozzi
Letters_, ii. 327.

[763] See _ante_, i. 242.

[764] See _ante_, i. 242.

[765] Nos. 26 and 29.

[766] _Piozzi Letters_, i. 334. See _ante_, p. 75.

[767] He strongly opposed the war with America, and was one of Dr.
Franklin's friends. Franklin's _Memoirs_, ed. 1818, iii. 108.

[768] It was of this tragedy that the following story is told in
Rogers's _Table-Talk_, p. 177:--'Lord Shelburne could say the most
provoking things, and yet appear quite unconscious of their being so. In
one of his speeches, alluding to Lord Carlisle, he said:--"The noble
Lord has written a comedy." "No, a tragedy." "Oh, I beg pardon; I
thought it was a comedy."' See _ante_, p. 113. Pope, writing to Mr.
Cromwell on Aug. 19, 1709, says:--'One might ask the same question of a
modern life, that Rich did of a modern play: "Pray do me the favour,
Sir, to inform me is this your tragedy or your comedy?"' Pope's _Works_,
ed. 1812, vi. 81.

[769] Mrs. Chapone, when she was Miss Mulso, had written 'four billets
in _The Rambler_, No. 10.' _Ante_, i. 203. She was one of the literary
ladies who sat at Richardson's feet. Wraxall (_Memoirs_, ed. 1815, i.
155) says that 'under one of the most repulsive exteriors that any woman
ever possessed she concealed very superior attainments and extensive
knowledge.' Just as Mrs. Carter was often called 'the learned Mrs.
Carter,' so Mrs. Chapone was known as 'the admirable Mrs. Chapone.'

[770] See _ante_, iii. 373.

[771] A few copies only of this tragedy have been printed, and given to
the authour's friends. BOSWELL.

[772] Dr. Johnson having been very ill when the tragedy was first sent
to him, had declined the consideration of it. BOSWELL.

[773] Johnson refers, I suppose, to a passage in Dryden which he quotes
in his _Dictionary_ under _mechanick_:--'Many a fair precept in poetry
is like a seeming demonstration in mathematicks, very specious in the
diagram, but failing in the mechanick operation.'


     'I could have borne my woes; that stranger Joy
      Wounds while it smiles:--The long imprison'd wretch,
      Emerging from the night of his damp cell,
      Shrinks from the sun's bright beams; and that which flings
      Gladness o'er all, to him is agony.' BOSWELL.

[775] Lord Cockburn (_Life of Lord Jeffrey_, i. 74) describing the
representation of Scotland towards the close of last century, and in
fact till the Reform Bill of 1832, says:--'There were probably not above
1500 or 2000 county electors in all Scotland; a body not too large to be
held, hope included, in Government's hand. The election of either the
town or the county member was a matter of such utter indifference to the
people, that they often only knew of it by the ringing of a bell, or by
seeing it mentioned next day in a newspaper.'

[776] Six years later, when he was _Praeses_ of the Quarter-Sessions, he
carried up to London an address to be presented to the Prince of Wales.
'This,' he wrote, 'will add something to my _conspicuousness_. Will that
word do?' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 295.

[777] This part of this letter was written, as Johnson goes on to say, a
considerable time before the conclusion. The Coalition Ministry, which
was suddenly dismissed by the King on Dec. 19, was therefore still in
power. Among Boswell's 'friends' was Burke. See _ante_, p. 223.

[778] On Nov. 22 he wrote to Dr. Taylor:-'I feel the weight of solitude
very pressing; after a night of broken and uncomfortable slumber I rise
to a solitary breakfast, and sit down in the evening with no companion.
Sometimes, however, I try to read more and more.' _Notes and Queries_,
6th S. v. 482. On Dec. 27 he wrote to Mrs. Thrale:--'You have more than
once wondered at my complaint of solitude, when you hear that I am
crowded with visits. _Inopem me copia fecit_. Visitors are no proper
companions in the chamber of sickness. They come when I could sleep or
read, they stay till I am weary.... The amusements and consolations of
langour and depression are conferred by familiar and domestick
companions, which can be visited or called at will.... Such society I
had with Levett and Williams; such I had where I am never likely to have
it more.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 341.

[779] The confusion arising from the sudden dismissal of a Ministry
which commanded a large majority in the House of Commons had been
increased by the resignation, on Dec. 22, of Earl Temple, three days
after his appointment as Secretary of State. _Parl. Hist_. xxiv. 238.

[780] 'News I know none,' wrote Horace Walpole on Dec. 30, 1783
(_Letters_, viii. 447), 'but that they are crying Peerages about the
streets in barrows, and can get none off.' Thirty-three peerages were
made in the next three years. (_Whitaker's Almanac_, 1886, p. 463.)
Macaulay tells how this December 'a troop of Lords of the Bedchamber, of
Bishops who wished to be translated, and of Scotch peers who wished to
be reelected made haste to change sides.' Macaulay's _Writings and
Speeches_, ed. 1871, p. 407.

[781] See _ante_, ii. 182. He died Oct. 28, 1788.

[782]'Prince Henry was the first encourager of remote navigation. What
mankind has lost and gained by the genius and designs of this prince it
would be long to compare, and very difficult to estimate. Much knowledge
has been acquired, and much cruelty been committed; the belief of
religion has been very little propagated, and its laws have been
outrageously and enormously violated. The Europeans have scarcely
visited any coast but to gratify avarice, and extend corruption; to
arrogate dominion without right, and practise cruelty without incentive.
Happy had it then been for the oppressed, if the designs of Henry had
slept in his bosom, and surely more happy for the oppressors.' Johnson's
_Works_, v. 219. See _ante_, ii. 478.

[783] 'The author himself,' wrote Gibbon (_Misc. Works_, i. 220), 'is
the best judge of his own performance; no one has so deeply meditated on
the subject; no one is so sincerely interested in the event.'

[784] Mickle, speaking in the third person as the Translator, says:--
'He is happy to be enabled to add Dr. Johnson to the number of those
whose kindness for the man, and good wishes for the Translation, call
for his sincerest gratitude.' Mickle's _Lusiad_, p. ccxxv.

[785] A brief record, it should seem, is given, _ante_, iii. 37.

[786] See _ante_, iii. 106, 214.

[787] The author of _Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Dr, Johnson_
says (p. 153) that it was Johnson who determined Shaw to undertake this
work. 'Sir,' he said, 'if you give the world a vocabulary of that
language, while the island of Great Britain stands in the Atlantic Ocean
your name will be mentioned.' On p. 156 is a letter by Johnson
introducing Shaw to a friend.

[788] 'Why is not the original deposited in some publick library?' he
asked. Boswell's _Hebrides_, Nov. 10.

[789] See ante, i. 190.

[790] See Appendix C.

[791] 'Dec. 27, 1873. The wearisome solitude of the long evenings did
indeed suggest to me the convenience of a club in my neighbourhood, but
I have been hindered from attending it by want of breath.' _Piozzi
Letters_, ii. 340. 'Dec. 31. I have much need of entertainment;
spiritless, infirm, sleepless, and solitary, looking back with sorrow
and forward with terrour.' _Ib_, p. 343.

[792] '"I think," said Mr. Cambridge, "it sounds more like some club
that one reads of in _The Spectator_ than like a real club in these
times; for the forfeits of a whole year will not amount to those of a
single night in other clubs."' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, ii. 290. Mr.
Cambridge was thinking of the Two-penny Club. _Spectator_, No. ix.

[793] I was in Scotland when this Club was founded, and during all the
winter. Johnson, however, declared I should be a member, and invented a
word upon the occasion: 'Boswell (said he) is a very _clubable_ man.'
When I came to town I was proposed by Mr. Barrington, and chosen. I
believe there are few societies where there is better conversation or
more decorum. Several of us resolved to continue it after our great
founder was removed by death. Other members were added; and now, above
eight years since that loss, we go on happily. BOSWELL. Mr. Croker says
'Johnson had already invented _unclubable_ for Sir J. Hawkins,' and
refers to a note by Dr. Burney (_ante_, i. 480, note I), in which
Johnson is represented as saying of Hawkins, while he was still a member
of the Literary Club:--'Sir John, Sir, is a very unclubable man.' But,
as Mr. Croker points out (Croker's _Boswell_, p. 164), 'Hawkins was not
knighted till long after he had left the club.' The anecdote, being
proved to be inaccurate in one point, may be inaccurate in another, and
may therefore belong to a much later date.

[794] See Appendix D.

[795] Ben Jonson wrote _Leges Convivales_ that were 'engraven in marble
over the chimney in the Apollo of the Old Devil Tavern, Temple Bar; that
being his Club Room.' Jonson's _Works_, ed. 1756, vii. 291.

[796] RULES.

     'To-day deep thoughts with me resolve to drench
     In mirth, which after no repenting draws.'--MILTON.

     ['To-day deep thoughts _resolve with me_ to drench
      In mirth _that_, &c.' _Sonnets_, xxi.]

'The Club shall consist of four-and-twenty.

'The meetings shall be on the Monday, Thursday, and Saturday of every
week; but in the week before Easter there shall be no meeting.

'Every member is at liberty to introduce a friend once a week, but not

'Two members shall oblige themselves to attend in their turn every night
from eight to ten, or to procure two to attend in their room.

'Every member present at the Club shall spend at least sixpence; and
every member who stays away shall forfeit three-pence.

'The master of the house shall keep an account of the absent members;
and deliver to the President of the night a list of the
forfeits incurred.

'When any member returns after absence, he shall immediately lay down
his forfeits; which if he omits to do, the President shall require.

'There shall be no general reckoning, but every man shall adjust his own

'The night of indispensable attendance will come to every member once a
month. Whoever shall for three months together omit to attend himself,
or by substitution, nor shall make any apology in the fourth month,
shall be considered as having abdicated the Club.

'When a vacancy is to be filled, the name of the candidate, and of the
member recommending him, shall stand in the Club-room three nights. On
the fourth he may be chosen by ballot; six members at least being
present, and two-thirds of the ballot being in his favour; or the
majority, should the numbers not be divisible by three.

'The master of the house shall give notice, six days before, to each of
those members whose turn of necessary attendance is come.

'The notice may be in these words:--"Sir, On ---- the ---- of ---- --
will be your turn of presiding at the Essex-Head. Your company is
therefore earnestly requested."

'One penny shall be left by each member for the waiter.'

Johnson's definition of a Club in this sense, in his _Dictionary_, is,
'An assembly of good fellows, meeting under certain conditions.' BOSWELL.

[797] She had left him in the summer (_ante_, p. 233), but perhaps she
had returned.

[798] He received many acts of kindness from outside friends. On Dec. 31
he wrote:--'I have now in the house pheasant, venison, turkey, and ham,
all unbought. Attention and respect give pleasure, however late or
however useless. But they are not useless when they are late; it is
reasonable to rejoice, as the day declines, to find that it has been
spent with the approbation of mankind.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 343.

[799] 'Dec. 16, 1783. I spent the afternoon with Dr. Johnson, who indeed
is very ill, and whom I could hardly tell how to leave. He was very,
very kind. Oh! what a cruel, heavy loss will he be! Dec. 30. I went to
Dr. Johnson, and spent the evening with him. He was very indifferent
indeed. There were some very disagreeable people with him; and he once
affected me very much by turning suddenly to me, and grasping my hand
and saying:--"The blister I have tried for my breath has betrayed some
very bad tokens; but I will not terrify myself by talking of them. Ah!
_priez Dieu pour moi_."' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, ii. 293, 5. 'I
snatch,' he wrote a few weeks later, 'every lucid interval, and animate
myself with such amusements as the time offers.' _Piozzi Letters_,
ii. 349.

[800] He had written to her on Nov. 10. See Croker's _Boswell_, p. 742.

[801] Hawkins (_Life_, 562) says that this November Johnson said to
him:--'What a man am I, who have got the better of three diseases, the
palsy, the gout, and the asthma, and can now enjoy the conversation of
my friends, without the interruptions of weakness or pain.'

[802] 'The street [on London Bridge], which, before the houses fell to
decay, consisted of handsome lofty edifices, pretty regularly built, was
20 feet broad, and the houses on each side generally 26-1/2 feet deep.'
After 1746 no more leases were granted, and the houses were allowed to
run to ruin. In 1756-7 they were all taken down. Dodsley's _London and
its Environs_, ed. 1761, iv. 136-143.

[803] In Lowndes's _Bibl. Man_. i. 328 is given a list of nearly fifty
of these books. Some of them were reprinted by Stace in 1810-13 in 6
vols. quarto. Dr. Franklin, writing of the books that he bought in his
boyhood says:--'My first acquisition was Bunyan's works in separate
little volumes. I afterwards sold them to enable me to buy R. Burton's
_Historical Collections_; they were small chapmen's books, and cheap.
Forty volumes in all.' Franklin's _Memoirs_, i. 17.

[804] He wrote to Mrs. Thrale this same day:--'Alas, I had no sleep last
night, and sit now panting over my paper. _Dabit Deus his quoque finem.'
['This too the Gods shall end.' MORRIS, Virgil, _Aeneids_, 1.199.]
_Piozzi Letters_, ii. 347.

[805] Boswell's purpose in this _Letter_ was to recommend the Scotch to
address the King to express their satisfaction that the East India
Company Bill had been rejected by the House of Lords. _Ib_. p. 39. 'Let
us,' he writes, 'upon this awful occasion think only of _property_ and
_constitution_;' p. 42. 'Let me add,' he says in concluding, 'that a
dismission of the Portland Administration will probably disappoint an
object which I have most ardently at heart;' p. 42. He was thinking no
doubt of his 'expectations from the interest of an eminent person then
in power' (ante, p. 223.)

[806] On p. 4 Boswell condemns the claim of Parliament to tax the
American colonies as 'unjust and inexpedient.' 'This claim,' he says,
'was almost universally approved of in Scotland, where due consideration
was had of the advantage of raising regiments.' He continues:--'When
pleading at the bar of the House of Commons in a question concerning
taxation, I avowed that opinion, declaring that the man in the world for
whom I have the highest respect (Dr. Johnson) had not been able to
convince me that _Taxation was no Tyranny_.'

[807] Boswell wrote to Reynolds on Feb. 6:--'I intend to be in London
next month, chiefly to attend upon Dr. Johnson with respectful
affection.' Croker's _Boswell_, p. 748.

[808] 'I have really hope from spring,' he wrote on Jan. 21, 'and am
ready, like Almanzor, to bid the sun _fly swiftly_, and _leave weeks and
months behind him_. The sun has looked for six thousand years upon the
world to little purpose, if he does not know that a sick man is almost
as impatient as a lover.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 347. Almanzor's speech
is at the end of Dryden's _Conquest of Granada_:--

     'Move swiftly, Sun, and fly a lover's pace;
     Leave weeks and months behind thee in thy race.'

See _ante_, i. 332, where Johnson said, 'This distinction of seasons is
produced only by imagination operating on luxury. To temperance every
day is bright,' and _post_, Aug. 2, 1784.

[809] He died in the following August at Dover, on his way home.
Walpole's _Letters_, viii. 494. See _ante_, iii. 250, 336, and _post_,
Aug. 19, 1784.

[810] On the last day of the old year he wrote:--'To any man who extends
his thoughts to national consideration, the times are dismal and gloomy.
But to a sick man, what is the publick?' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 344.

The original of the following note is in the admirable collection of
autographs belonging to my friend, Mr. M. M. Holloway:--


'in Ashbourne,



'I am still confined to the house, and one of my amusements is to write
letters to my friends, though they, being busy in the common scenes of
life, are not equally diligent in writing to me. Dr. Heberden was with
me two or three days ago, and told me that nothing ailed me, which I was
glad to hear, though I knew it not to be true. My nights are restless,
my breath is difficult, and my lower parts continue tumid.

'The struggle, you see, still continues between the two sets of
ministers: those that are _out_ and _in_ one can scarce call them, for
who is _out_ or _in_ is perhaps four times a day a new question. The
tumult in government is, I believe, excessive, and the efforts of each
party outrageously violent, with very little thought on any national
interest, at a time when we have all the world for our enemies, when the
King and parliament have lost even the titular dominion of America, and
the real power of Government every where else. Thus Empires are broken
down when the profits of administration are so great, that ambition is
satisfied with obtaining them, and he that aspires to greatness needs do
nothing more than talk himself into importance. He has then all the
power which danger and conquest used formerly to give; he can raise a
family and reward his followers.

'Mr. Burke has just sent me his Speech upon the affairs of India, a
volume of above a hundred pages closely printed. I will look into it;
but my thoughts seldom now travel to great distances.

'I would gladly know when you think to come hither, and whether this
year you will come or no. If my life be continued, I know not well how I
shall bestow myself.

'I am, Sir,

'Your affectionate &c.,


'London, Jan. 24, 1784.'

[811] See _post_, v. 48.

[812] See _post_, p. 271.

[813] I sent it to Mr. Pitt, with a letter, in which I thus expressed
myself:--'My principles may appear to you too monarchical: but I know
and am persuaded, they are not inconsistent with the true principles of
liberty. Be this as it may, you, Sir, are now the Prime Minister, called
by the Sovereign to maintain the rights of the Crown, as well as those
of the people, against a violent faction. As such, you are entitled to
the warmest support of every good subject in every department.' He
answered:--'I am extremely obliged to you for the sentiments you do me
the honour to express, and have observed with great pleasure the
_zealous and able support_ given to the CAUSE OF THE PUBLICK in the work
you were so good to transmit to me.' BOSWELL. Five years later, and two
years before _The Life of Johnson_ was published, Boswell wrote to
Temple:--'As to Pitt, he is an insolent fellow, but so able, that upon
the whole I must support him against the _Coalition_; but I will _work_
him, for he has behaved very ill to me. Can he wonder at my wishing for
preferment, when men of the first family and fortune in England struggle
for it?' _Letters of Boswell_, p. 295. Warburton said of Helvetius, whom
he disliked, that, if he had met him, 'he would have _worked_ him.'
Walpole's _Letters_, iv. 217.

[814] Out of this offer, and one of a like nature made in 1779 (_ante_,
iii. 418), Mr. Croker weaves a vast web of ridiculous suspicions.

[815] From his garden at Prestonfield, where he cultivated that plant
with such success, that he was presented with a gold medal by the
Society of London for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and
Commerce. BOSWELL.

[816] In the original _effusion_. Johnson's _Works_, vii. 402.

[817] Who had written him a very kind letter. BOSWELL.

[818] On Jan. 12 the Ministry had been in a minority of 39 in a House of
425; on March 8 the minority was reduced to one in a House of 381.
Parliament was dissolved on the 25th. In the first division in the new
Parliament the Ministry were in a majority of 97 in a House of 369.
_Parl. Hist._ xxiv. 299, 744, 829.

[819] See _ante_, p. 241.

[820] 'In old Aberdeen stands the King's College, of which the first
president was Hector Boece, or Boethius, who may be justly reverenced as
one of the revivers of elegant learning.' Johnson's _Works_, ix. 11.

[821] See _ante_, iii. 104.

[822] In his dining-room, no doubt, among 'the very respectable people'
whose portraits hung there. _Ante_, p. 203, note.

[823] Horace Walpole (_Letters_, viii. 466) wrote on March 30:--'The
nation is intoxicated, and has poured in Addresses of Thanks to the
Crown for exerting the prerogative _against_ the palladium of
the people.'

[824] The election lasted from April 1 to May 16. Fox was returned
second on the poll. _Ann. Reg._ xxvii. 190.

[825] He was returned also for Kirkwall, for which place he sat for
nearly a year, while the scrutiny of the Westminster election was
dragging on. _Parl. Hist_. xxiv. 799.

[826] Hannah More wrote on March 8 (_Memoirs_, i. 310):--'I am sure you
will honour Mr. Langton, when I tell you he is come on purpose to stay
with Dr. Johnson, and that during his illness. He has taken a little
lodging in Fleet-street in order to be near, to devote himself to him.
He has as much goodness as learning, and that is saying a bold thing of
one of the first Greek scholars we have.'

[827] Floyer was the Lichfield physician on whose advice Johnson was
'_touched_' by Queen Anne. _Ante_, i. 42, 91, and _post_, July 20, 1784.

[828] To which Johnson returned this answer:--


'Dr. Johnson acknowledges with great respect the honour of Lord
Portmore's notice. He is better than he was; and will, as his Lordship
directs, write to Mr. Langton.

'Bolt-court, Fleet-street,

April 13, 1784.'

BOSWELL. Johnson here assumes his title of Doctor, which Boswell says
(_ante_, ii. 332, note 1), so far as he knew, he never did. Perhaps the
letter has been wrongly copied, or perhaps Johnson thought that, in
writing to a man of title, he ought to assume such title as he
himself had.

[829] The eminent painter, representative of the ancient family of
Homfrey (now Humphry) in the west of England; who, as appears from their
arms which they have invariably used, have been, (as I have seen
authenticated by the best authority,) one of those among the Knights and
Esquires of honour who are represented by Holinshed as having issued
from the Tower of London on coursers apparelled for the justes,
accompanied by ladies of honour, leading every one a Knight, with a
chain of gold, passing through the streets of London into Smithfield, on
Sunday, at three o'clock in the afternoon, being the first Sunday after
Michaelmas, in the fourteenth year of King Richard the Second. This
family once enjoyed large possessions, but, like others, have lost them
in the progress of ages. Their blood, however, remains to them well
ascertained; and they may hope in the revolution of events, to recover
that rank in society for which, in modern times, fortune seems to be an
indispensable requisite. BOSWELL.

[830] Son of Mr. Samuel Paterson. BOSWELL. In the first two editions
after 'Paterson' is added 'eminent for his knowledge of books.' See
_ante_, iii. 90.

[831] Humphry, on his first coming to London, poor and unfriended, was
helped by Reynolds. Northcote's _Reynolds_, ii. 174.

[832] On April 21 he wrote:--'After a confinement of 129 days, more than
the third part of a year, and no inconsiderable part of human life, I
this day returned thanks to God in St. Clement's Church for my
recovery.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 365.

[833] On April 26 he wrote:--'On Saturday I showed myself again to the
living world at the Exhibition; much and splendid was the company, but
like the Doge of Genoa at Paris [Versailles, Voltaire, _Siècle de Louis
XIV_, chap, xiv.], I admired nothing but myself. I went up the stairs to
the pictures without stopping to rest or to breathe,

     "In all the madness of superfluous health."

[Pope's _Essay on Man_, iii. 3.] The Prince of Wales had promised to be
there; but when we had waited an hour and a half, sent us word that he
could not come.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 367. 'The first Gentleman in
Europe' was twenty-one years old when he treated men like Johnson and
Reynolds with this insolence. Mr. Forster (_Life of Goldsmith_, ii. 244)
says that it was at this very dinner that 'Johnson left his seat by
desire of the Prince of Wales, and went to the head of the table to be
introduced.' He does not give his authority for the statement.

[834] Mr. Croker wrote in 1847 that he had 'seen it very lately framed
and glazed, in possession of the lady to whom it was addressed.'
Croker's _Boswell_, p. 753.

[835] Shortly before he begged one of Mrs. Thrale's daughters 'never to
think that she had arithmetic enough.' _Ante_, p. 171, note 3. See
_ante_, iii. 207, note 3.

[836] Cowper wrote on May 10 to the Rev. John Newton:--'We rejoice in
the account you give us of Dr. Johnson. His conversion will indeed be a
singular proof of the omnipotence of Grace; and the more singular, the
more decided.' Southey's _Cowper_, xv. 150. Johnson, in a prayer that he
wrote on April 11, said:--'Enable me, O Lord, to glorify Thee for that
knowledge of my corruption, and that sense of Thy wrath, which my
disease and weakness and danger awakened in my mind.' _Pr. and Med._
p. 217.

[837] Mr. Croker suggests _immediate_.

[838] 'The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.'
_St. James_, v. 16.

[839] Upon this subject there is a very fair and judicious remark in the
life of Dr. Abernethy, in the first edition of the _Biographia
Britannica_, which I should have been glad to see in his life which has
been written for the second edition of that valuable work. 'To deny the
exercise of a particular providence in the Deity's government of the
world is certainly impious: yet nothing serves the cause of the scorner
more than an incautious forward zeal in determining the particular
instances of it.'

In confirmation of my sentiments, I am also happy to quote that sensible
and elegant writer Mr. _Melmoth_ [see _ante_, iii. 422], in Letter VIII.
of his collection, published under the name of _Fitzosborne_. 'We may
safely assert, that the belief of a particular Providence is founded
upon such probable reasons as may well justify our assent. It would
scarce, therefore, be wise to renounce an opinion which affords so firm
a support to the soul, in those seasons wherein she stands in most need
of assistance, merely because it is not possible, in questions of this
kind, to solve every difficulty which attends them.' BOSWELL.

[840] I was sorry to observe Lord Monboddo avoid any communication with
Dr. Johnson. I flattered myself that I had made them very good friends
(see _Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides_, third edit. p. 67, _post_, v.
80), but unhappily his Lordship had resumed and cherished a violent
prejudice against my illustrious friend, to whom I must do the justice
to say, there was on his part not the least anger, but a good-humoured
sportiveness. Nay, though he knew of his Lordship's indisposition
towards him, he was even kindly; as appeared from his inquiring of me
after him, by an abbreviation of his name, 'Well, how does _Monny_?'
BOSWELL. Boswell (_Hebrides, post_, v. 74) says:--'I knew Lord Monboddo
and Dr. Johnson did not love each other; yet I was unwilling not to
visit his lordship, and was also curious to see them together.'
Accordingly, he brought about a meeting. Four years later, in 1777
(_ante_, iii. 102), Monboddo received from Johnson a copy of his Journey
to the Hebrides. They met again in London in 1780 (Piozzi Letters, ii.
III), and perhaps then quarrelled afresh. Dr. Seattle wrote on Feb. 28,
1785:-'Lord Monboddo's hatred of Johnson was singular; he would not
allow him to know anything but Latin grammar, "and that," says he, "I
know as well as he does." I never heard Johnson say anything severe of
him, though when he mentioned his name, he generally "grinned horribly a
ghastly smile,"' ['Grinned horrible,' &c. _Paradise Lost_, ii. 846.]
Forbes's _Beattie_, p. 333. The use of the abbreviation _Monny_ on
Johnson's part scarcely seems a proof of kindliness. See _ante_, i. 453,
where he said:--'Why, Sir, _Sherry_ is dull, naturally dull,' &c.; and
iii. 84, note 2, where he said:--'I should have thought _Mund_ Burke
would have had more sense;' see also Rogers's _Boswelliana_, p. 216,
where he said:--'_Derry_ [Derrick] may do very well while he can outrun
his character; but the moment that his character gets up with him he
is gone.'

[841] On May 13 he wrote:--' Now I am broken loose, my friends seem
willing enough to see me. ... But I do not now drive the world about;
the world drives or draws me. I am very weak.' _Piozzi Letters_,
ii. 369.

[842] See _ante,_ iii, 443.

[843] See _ante,_ p. 197.

[844] Boswell himself, likely enough.

[845] Verses on the death of Mr. Levett. BOSWELL. _Ante,_ p. 138

[846] If it was Boswell to whom this advice was given, it is not
unlikely that he needed it. The meagreness of his record of Johnson's
talk at this season may have been due, as seems to have happened before,
to too much drinking. _Ante,_ p.88, note 1.

[847] _Ante,_ ii. 100.

[848] George Steevens. See _ante,_ iii. 281.

[849] Forty-six years earlier Johnson wrote of this lady:-'I have
composed a Greek epigram to Eliza, and think she ought to be celebrated
in as many different languages as Lewis le Grand.' _Ante_, i. 122. Miss
Burney described her in 1780 as 'really a noble-looking woman; I never
saw age so graceful in the female sex yet; her whole face seems to beam
with goodness, piety, and philanthropy.' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_,
i. 373.

[850] 'Mrs. Thrale says that though Mrs. Lennox's books are generally
approved, nobody likes her.' _Ib._ p. 91. See _ante_, i. 255, and
iv. 10.

[851] 'Sept. 1778. MRS. THRALE. "Mrs. Montagu is the first woman for
literary knowledge in England, and if in England, I hope I may say in
the world." DR. JOHNSON. "I believe you may, Madam. She diffuses more
knowledge in her conversation than any woman I know, or, indeed, almost
any man." MRS. THRALE. "I declare I know no man equal to her, take away
yourself and Burke, for that art."' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, i. 118. It
is curious that Mrs. Thrale and Boswell should both thus instance Burke.
Miss Burney writes of her in much more moderate terms:--'Allowing a
little for parade and ostentation, which her power in wealth and rank in
literature offer some excuse for, her conversation is very agreeable;
she is always reasonable and sensible, and sometimes instructive and
entertaining.' _Ib._ p. 325. See _ante_, ii. 88, note 3. These five
ladies all lived to a great age. Mrs. Montagu was 80 when she died; Mrs.
Lennox, 83; Miss Burney (Mme. D'Arblay), 87; Miss More and Mrs. (Miss)
Carter, 88. Their hostess, Mrs. Garrick, was 97 or 98.

[852] Miss Burney, describing how she first saw Burke, says:--'I had
been told that Burke was not expected; yet I could conclude this
gentleman to be no other. There was an evident, a striking superiority
in his demeanour, his eye, his motions, that announced him no common
man.' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary_, ii. 145. See _ante_, ii. 450, where
Johnson said of Burke:--'His stream of mind is perpetual;' and Boswell's
_Hebrides post,_, v. 32, and Prior's _Life of Burke_, fifth edition,
p. 58.

[853] _Kennel_ is a strong word to apply to Burke; but, in his
jocularity, he sometimes 'let himself down' to indelicate stories. In
the House of Commons he had told one--and a very stupid one too--not a
year before. _Parl. Hist_, xxiii. 918. Horace Walpole speaks of Burke's
'pursuit of wit even to puerility.' _Journal of the Reign of George
III_, i. 443. He adds (_ib_. ii. 26):--'Burke himself always aimed at
wit, but was not equally happy in public and private. In the former,
nothing was so luminous, so striking, so abundant; in private, it was
forced, unnatural, and bombast.' See _ante_, p. 104, where Wilkes said
that in his oratory 'there was a strange want of taste.'

[854] _Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides_, third edition, p. 20 [_post_,
v. 32.] BOSWELL. See also _ante_, i. 453, and iii. 323.

[855] I have since heard that the report was not well founded; but the
elation discovered by Johnson in the belief that it was true, shewed a
noble ardour for literary fame. BOSWELL. Johnson wrote on Feb. 9:--'One
thing which I have just heard you will think to surpass expectation. The
chaplain of the factory at Petersburgh relates that the _Rambler_ is
now, by the command of the Empress, translating into Russian, and has
promised, when it is printed, to send me a copy.' _Piozzi Letters,_ ii.
349. Stockdale records (_Memoirs,_ ii. 98) that in 1773 the Empress of
Russia engaged 'six English literary gentlemen for instructors of her
young nobility in her Academy at St. Petersburgh.' He was offered one of
the posts. Her zeal may have gone yet further, and she may have wished
to open up English literature to those who could not read English.
Beauclerk's library was offered for sale to the Russian Ambassador.
_Ante,_ iii. 420. Miss Burney, in 1789, said that a newspaper reported
that 'Angelica Kauffmann is making drawings from _Evelina_ for the
Empress of Russia.' Mme. D'Arblay's _Diary,_ v. 35.


     '--me peritus
      Disect Iber, Rhodanique potor.'

     'To him who drinks the rapid Rhone
      Shall Horace, deathless bard, be known.'

      FRANCIS. Horace, _Odes_, ii. 20. 19.

[857] See _ante_, iii. 49.

[858] See _post_, June 12, 1784.

[859] See _ante_, p. 126.

[860] H. C. Robinson (_Diary_, i. 29) describes him as 'an author on an
infinity of subjects; his books were on Law, History, Poetry,
Antiquities, Divinity, Politics.' He adds (_ib_. p. 49l):--'Godwin,
Lofft, and Thelwall are the only three persons I know (except Hazlitt)
who grieve at the late events'--the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo. He
found long after his death 'a MS. by him in these words:--"Rousseau,
Euripides, Tasso, Racine, Cicero, Virgil, Petrarch, Richardson. If I had
five millions of years to live upon this earth, these I would read daily
with increasing delight."' _Ib_. iii. 283.

[861] Dunciad, iv. 394, note.

[862] The King opened Parliament this day. Hannah More during the
election found the mob favourable to Fox. One night, in a Sedan chair,
she was stopped with the news that it was not safe to go through Covent
Garden. 'There were a hundred armed men,' she was told, 'who, suspecting
every chairman belonged to Brookes's, would fall upon us. A vast number
of people followed me, crying out "It is Mrs. Fox; none but Mr. Fox's
wife would dare to come into Covent Garden in a chair; she is going to
canvas in the dark."' H. More's _Memoirs_, i. 316. Horace Walpole wrote
on April 11:--'In truth Mr. Fox has all the popularity in Westminster.'
_Letters_, viii. 469.

[863] See _post_, under June 9, 1784, where Johnson describes Fox as 'a
man who has divided the kingdom with Caesar.'

[864] See _ante_, p. 111.

[865] See _ante_, ii. 162.

[866] Boswell twice speaks of W. G. Hamilton as 'an eminent friend' of
Johnson. He was not Boswell's friend. (Ante, p. 111, and _post_, under
Dec. 20, 1784.) But Boswell does not here say 'a friend _of ours_.' By
'eminent friend' Burke is generally meant, and he, possibly, is meant
here. Boswell, it is true, speaks of his 'orderly and amiable domestic
habits' (_ante_, iii. 378); but then Boswell mentions the person here
'as a virtuous man.' If Burke is meant, Johnson's suspicions would seem
to be groundless.

[867] See _ante_, p. 168, where Johnson 'wonders why he should have any

[868] After all, I cannot but be of opinion, that as Mr. Langton was
seriously requested by Dr. Johnson to mention what appeared to him
erroneous in the character of his friend, he was bound, as an honest
man, to intimate what he really thought, which he certainly did in the
most delicate manner; so that Johnson himself, when in a quiet frame of
mind, was pleased with it. The texts suggested are now before me, and I
shall quote a few of them. 'Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit
the earth.' _Mat._ v. 5.--'I therefore, the prisoner of the LORD,
beseech you, that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are
called; with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing
one another in love.' _Ephes._ v. [iv.] 1, 2.--'And above all these
things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.' _Col._ iii.
14.--'Charity suffereth long and is kind; charity envieth not, charity
vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up: doth not behave itself unseemly,
is not easily provoked.' 1 _Cor._ xiii. 4, 5. BOSWELL. Johnson, in _The
Rambler,_ No. 28, had almost foretold what would happen. 'For escaping
these and a thousand other deceits many expedients have been proposed.
Some have recommended the frequent consultation of a wise friend,
admitted to intimacy and encouraged by sincerity. But this appears a
remedy by no means adapted to general use; for, in order to secure the
virtue of one, it pre-supposes more virtue in two than will generally be
found. In the first, such a desire of rectitude and amendment as may
incline him to hear his own accusation from the mouth of him whom he
esteems, and by whom therefore he will always hope that his faults are
not discovered; and in the second, such zeal and honesty as will make
him content for his friend's advantage to lose his kindness.'

[869] Member for Dumfries.

[870] Malone points out that the passage is not in Bacon, but in Boyle,
and that it is quoted in Johnson's _Dictionary_ (in the later editions
only), under _cross-bow._ It is as follows:--'Testimony is like the shot
of a long-bow, which owes its efficacy to the force of the shooter;
argument is like the shot of the cross-bow, equally forcible whether
discharged by a giant or a dwarf.' See Smollett's _Works_, ed. 1797, i.
cliv, for a somewhat fuller account by Dr. Moore of what was said by
Johnson this evening.

[871] The Peace made by that very able statesman, the Earl of Shelburne,
now Marquis of Lansdown, which may fairly be considered as the
foundation of all the prosperity of Great Britain since that time.
BOSWELL. In the winter of 1782-83, preliminary treaties of peace were
made with the United States, France, and Spain; and a suspension of arms
with Holland. The Ode is made up of such lines as the following:--

     'While meek philosophy explores
     Creation's vast stupendous round,
     With piercing gaze sublime she soars,
     And bursts the system's distant bound.'

_Gent. Mag._; 1783. p. 245.

[872] In the first edition of my Work, the epithet _amiable_ was given.
I was sorry to be obliged to strike it out; but I could not in justice
suffer it to remain, after this young lady had not only written in
favour of the savage Anarchy with which France has been visited, but had
(as I have been informed by good authority), walked, without horrour,
over the ground at the Thuillieries, when it was strewed with the naked
bodies of the faithful Swiss Guards, who were barbarously massacred for
having bravely defended, against a crew of ruffians, the Monarch whom
they had taken an oath to defend. From Dr. Johnson she could now expect
not endearment but repulsion. BOSWELL.

[873] Rogers (_Table-Talk_, p. 50) described her as 'a very fascinating
person,' and narrated a curious anecdote which he heard from her about
the Reign of Terror.

[874] This year, forming as it did exactly a quarter of a century since
Handel's death, and a complete century since his birth, was sought, says
the _Gent. Mag._ (1784, p. 457) as the first public periodical occasion
for bringing together musical performers in England. Dr. Burney writes
(_Ann. Reg._ 1784, p. 331):--'Foreigners must have been astonished at so
numerous a band, moving in such exact measure, without the assistance of
a Coryphaeus to beat time. Rousseau says that "the more time is beaten,
the less it is kept."' There were upwards of 500 performers.

[875] See _ante_, iii. 242.

[876] Lady Wronghead, whispers Mrs. Motherly, pointing to Myrtilla.

'_Mrs. Motherly_. Only a niece of mine, Madam, that lives with me; she
will be proud to give your Ladyship any assistance in her power.

'_Lady Wronghead_. A pretty sort of a young woman--Jenny, you two must
be acquainted.

'_Jenny_. O Mamma! I am never strange in a strange place. _Salutes
Myrtilla_.' _The Provoked Husband; or, A Journey to London_, act ii. sc.
1, by Vanbrugh and Colley Gibber. It was not therefore Squire Richard
whom Johnson quoted, but his sister.

[877] See _ante_, p. 191.

[878] See Macaulay's _Essays_, ed. 1843, i. 353, for his application of
this story.

[879] She too was learned; for according to Hannah More (_Memoirs_, i.
292) she had learnt Hebrew, merely to be useful to her husband.


     'This day then let us not be told,
      That you are sick, and I grown old;
      Nor think on our approaching ills,
      And talk of spectacles and pills.'

Swift's _Lines on Stella's Birthday_, 1726-27. Works, ed. 1803, xi. 21.

[881] Dr. Newton, in his _Account of his own Life_, after animadverting
upon Mr. Gibbon's _History_, says, 'Dr. Johnson's _Lives of the Poets_
afforded more amusement; but candour was much hurt and offended at the
malevolence that predominates in every part. Some passages, it must be
allowed, are judicious and well written, but make not sufficient
compensation for so much spleen and ill humour. Never was any biographer
more sparing of his praise, or more abundant in his censures. He
seemingly delights more in exposing blemishes, than in recommending
beauties; slightly passes over excellencies, enlarges upon
imperfections, and not content with his own severe reflections, revives
old scandal, and produces large quotations from the forgotten works of
former criticks. His reputation was so high in the republick of letters,
that it wanted not to be raised upon the ruins of others. But these
_Essays_, instead of raising a higher idea than was before entertained
of his understanding, have certainly given the world a worse opinion of
his temper.--The Bishop was therefore the more surprized and concerned
for his townsman, for _he respected him not only for his genius and
learning, but valued him much more for the more amiable part of his
character, his humanity and charity, his morality and religion.'_ The
last sentence we may consider as the general and permanent opinion of
Bishop Newton; the remarks which precede it must, by all who have read
Johnson's admirable work, be imputed to the disgust and peevishness of
old age. I wish they had not appeared, and that Dr. Johnson had not been
provoked by them to express himself, not in respectful terms, of a
Prelate, whose labours were certainly of considerable advantage both to
literature and religion. BOSWELL.

[882] Newton was born Jan. 1, 1704, and was made Bishop in 1761. In his
_Account of his own Life_ (p. 65) he says:--'He was no great gainer by
his preferment; for he was obliged to give up the prebend of
Westminster, the precentorship of York, the lecturership of St.
George's, Hanover Square, and the _genteel office of sub-almoner_.' He
died in 1781. His _Works_ were published in 1782. Gibbon, defending
himself against an attack by Newton, says (_Misc. Works_, l. 24l):--'The
old man should not have indulged his zeal in a false and feeble charge
against the historian, who,' &c.

[883] _Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides,_ 3rd ed. p. 371 [Oct. 25].
BOSWELL. See _ante_, ii. 216.

[884] The Rev. Mr. Agutter [_post,_ under Dec. 20] has favoured me with
a note of a dialogue between Mr. John Henderson [_post,_ June 12] and
Dr. Johnson on this topick, as related by Mr. Henderson, and it is
evidently so authentick that I shall here insert it:--HENDERSON. 'What
do you think, Sir, of William Law?' JOHNSON. 'William Law, Sir, wrote
the best piece of Parenetick Divinity; but William Law was no reasoner.'
HENDERSON. 'Jeremy Collier, Sir?' JOHNSON. 'Jeremy Collier fought
without a rival, and therefore could not claim the victory.' Mr.
Henderson mentioned Kenn and Kettlewell; but some objections were made:
at last he said, 'But, Sir, what do you think of Leslie?' JOHNSON.
'Charles Leslie I had forgotten. Leslie _was_ a reasoner, and _a
reasoner who was not to be reasoned against.'_ BOSWELL.

For the effect of Law's 'Parenetick Divinity' on Johnson, see _ante_, i.
68. 'I am surprised,' writes Macaulay, 'that Johnson should have
pronounced Law no reasoner. Law did indeed fall into great errors; but
they were errors against which logic affords no security. In mere
dialectical skill he had very few superiors.' Macaulay's _England_, ed.
1874, v. 81, note. Jeremy Collier's attack on the play-writers Johnson
describes in his _Life of Congreve_ (_Works_, viii. 28), and
continues:--'Nothing now remained for the poets but to resist or fly.
Dryden's conscience, or his prudence, angry as he was, withheld him from
the conflict: Congreve and Vanbrugh attempted answers.' Of Leslie, Lord
Bolingbroke thus writes (_Works_, in. 45):--'Let neither the polemical
skill of Leslie, nor the antique erudition of Bedford, persuade us to
put on again those old shackles of false law, false reason, and false
gospel, which were forged before the Revolution, and broken to pieces by
it.' Leslie is described by Macaulay, _History of England_, v. 81.

[885] Burnet (_History of his own Time_, ed. 1818, iv. 303) in 1712
speaks of Hickes and Brett as being both in the Church, but as shewing
'an inclination towards Popery.' Hickes, he says, was at the head of the
Jacobite party. See Boswell's _Hebrides_, Oct. 25.

[886] 'Only five of the seven were non-jurors; and anybody but Boswell
would have known that a man may resist arbitrary power, and yet not be a
good reasoner. Nay, the resistance which Sancroft and the other
nonjuring Bishops offered to arbitrary power, while they continued to
hold the doctrine of non-resistance, is the most decisive proof that
they were incapable of reasoning.' Macaulay's _England_, ed. 1874,
v. 81.

[887] See _ante_, ii. 321, for Johnson's estimate of the Nonjurors, and
i. 429 for his Jacobitism.

[888] Savage's _Works_, ed. 1777, ii. 28.

[889] See _ante_, p. 46.

[890] See Boswell's _Hebrides, post_, v. 77.

[891] I have inserted the stanza as Johnson repeated it from memory; but
I have since found the poem itself, in _The Foundling Hospital for Wit_,
printed at London, 1749. It is as follows:--

     'EPIGRAM, _occasioned by a religious dispute at Bath_.

     'On Reason, Faith, and Mystery high,
        Two wits harangue the table;
      B----y believes he knows not why.
        N---- swears 'tis all a fable.
      Peace, coxcombs, peach, and both agree,
        N----, kiss they empty brother:
      Religion laughs at foes like thee,
        And dreads a friend like t'other.'

BOSWELL. The disputants are supposed to have been Beau Nash and Bentley,
the son of the doctor, and the friend of Walpole. Croker. John Wesley in
his _Journal_, i. 186, tells how he once silences Nash.

[892] See ante, ii. 105.

[893] Waller, in his _Divine Poesie_, canto first, has the same thought
finely expressed:--

     'The Church triumphant, and the Church below,
      In songs of praise their present union show;
      Their joys are full; our expectation long,
      In life we differ, but we join in song;
      Angels and we assisted by this art,
      May sing together, though we dwell apart.'


[894] See Boswell's _Hebrides_, post, v. 45.

[895] In the original, _flee_.

[896] The sermon thus opens:--'That there are angels and spirits good
and bad; that at the head of these last there is ONE more considerable
and malignant than the rest, who, in the form, or under the name of a
_serpent_, was deeply concerned in the fall of man, and whose _head_, as
the prophetick language is, the son of man was one day to _bruise_; that
this evil spirit, though that prophecy be in part completed, has not yet
received his death's wound, but is still permitted, for ends
unsearchable to us, and in ways which we cannot particularly explain, to
have a certain degree of power in this world hostile to its virtue and
happiness, and sometimes exerted with too much success; all this is so
clear from Scripture, that no believer, unless he be first of all
_spoiled by philosophy and vain deceit [Colossians_, ii. 8], can
possibly entertain a doubt of it.'

Having treated of _possessions_, his Lordship says, 'As I have no
authority to affirm that there _are_ now any such, so neither may I
presume to say with confidence, that there are _not_ any.'

'But then with regard to the influence of evil spirits at this day upon
the SOULS of men, I shall take leave to be a great deal more
peremptory.--(Then, having stated the various proofs, he adds,) All
this, I say, is so manifest to every one who reads the Scriptures, that,
if we respect their authority, the question concerning the reality of
the demoniack influence upon the minds of men is clearly determined.'

Let it be remembered, that these are not the words of an antiquated or
obscure enthusiast, but of a learned and polite Prelate now alive; and
were spoken, not to a vulgar congregation, but to the Honourable Society
of Lincoln's-Inn. His Lordship in this sermon explains the words,
'deliver us from evil,' in the Lord's Prayer, as signifying a request to
be protected from 'the evil one,' that is the Devil. This is well
illustrated in a short but excellent Commentary by my late worthy
friend, the Reverend Dr. Lort, of whom it may truly be said, _Multis
ille bonis flebilis occidit_. It is remarkable that Waller, in his
_Reflections on the several Petitions, in that sacred form of devotion_,
has understood this in the same sense;--

     'Guard us from all temptations of the FOE.'

BOSWELL. Dr. Lort is often mentioned in Horace Walpole's _Letters_.
Multis ille _quidem_ flebilis occidit,' comes from Horace, _Odes_, i.
xxiv. 9, translated by Francis,--

     How did the good, the virtuous mourn.'

For Dr. Hurd see _ante_, p. 189.

[897] There is a curious anecdote of this physician in _Gent. Mag._
1772, p. 467.

[898] See _ante_, p. 166. He may have taken the more to Fox, as he had
taken to Beauclerk (_ante_, i. 248), on account of his descent from
Charles II. Fox was the great-great-grandson of that king. His Christian
names recall his Stuart ancestry.

[899] Horace Walpole wrote on April 11 (_Letters_, viii. 469):--'In
truth Mr. Fox has all the popularity in Westminster; and, indeed, is so
amiable and winning that, could he have stood in person all over
England, I question whether he would not have carried the Parliament.'
Hannah More (_Memoirs_, i. 316) in the same month wrote:--'Unluckily for
my principles I met Fox canvassing the other day, and he looked so
sensible and agreeable, that if I had not turned my eyes another way, I
believe it would have been all over with me.' See _ante_, p. 279.

[900] Dr. John Radcliffe, who died in 1714, left by his will, among
other great benefactions to the University of Oxford, '£600 yearly to
two persons, when they are Masters of Arts and entered on the
physic-line, for their maintenance for the space of ten years; the half
of which time at least they are to travel in parts beyond sea for their
better improvement.' _Radcliffe's Life and Will_, p. 123. Pope mentions
them in his _Imitations of Horace, Epistles_, ii. i. 183:--

     'E'en Radcliffe's doctors travel first to France,
      Nor dare to practise till they've learned to dance.'

[901] What risks were run even by inoculation is shewn in two of Dr.
Warton's letters. He wrote to his brother:--'This moment the dear
children have all been inoculated, never persons behaved better, no
whimpering at all, I hope in God for success, but cannot avoid being in
much anxiety.' A few days later he wrote:--'You may imagine I never
passed such a day as this in my life! grieved to death myself for the
loss of so sweet a child, but forced to stifle my feelings as much as
possible for the sake of my poor wife. She does not, however, hit on, or
dwell on, that most cutting circumstance of all, poor Nanny's dying, as
it were by our own means, tho' well intended indeed.' Wooll's _Warton_,
i. 289. Dr. Franklin (_Memoirs_, i. 155), on the other hand, bitterly
regretted that he had not had a child inoculated, whom he lost by

[902] See _post_, before Nov. 17, and under Dec. 9, 1784.

[903] 'I am the vilest of sinners and the worst of men.' Taylor's
_Works_ (ed. 1864), iii. 31. 'The best men deserve not eternal life, and
I who am the worst may have it given me.' _Ib_. p. 431--'He that hath
lived worst, even I.' _Ib_. vii. 241. 'Behold me the meanest of thy
creatures.' _Ib_. p. 296.

[904] 'You may fairly look upon yourself to be the greatest sinner that
you know in the world. First, because you know more of the folly of your
own heart than you do of other people's; and can charge yourself with
various sins that you only know of yourself, and cannot be sure that
other people are guilty of them.' Law's _Serious Call_, chap. 23.

[905] 1 _Timothy_, i. 15.

[906] See _post_, v. 68, note 4.

[907] 'Be careful thou dost not speak a lie in thy prayers, which though
not observed is frequently practised by careless persons, especially in
the forms of confession, affirming things which they have not thought,
professing sorrow which is not, making a vow they mean not.' Taylor's
_Works_, ed. 1865, vii. 622.

[908] Reynolds wrote:--'As in Johnson's writings not a line can be found
which a saint would wish to blot, so in his life he would never suffer
the least immorality or indecency of conversation, [or anything]
contrary to virtue or piety to proceed without a severe check, which no
elevation of rank exempted them from.' Taylor's _Reynolds_, ii. 458. See
_ante_, iii. 41.

[909] No doubt Mr. Langton.

[910] Dr. Sheridan tells how Swift overheard a Captain Hamilton say to a
gentleman at whose house he had arrived 'that he was very sorry he had
chosen that time for his visit. "Why so?" "Because I hear Dean Swift is
with you. He is a great scholar, a wit; a plain country squire will have
but a bad time of it in his company, and I don't like to be laughed at."
Swift then stepped up and said, "Pray, Captain Hamilton, do you know how
to say _yes_ or _no_ properly?" "Yes, I think I have understanding
enough for that." "Then give me your hand--depend upon it, you and I
will agree very well."' 'The Captain told me,' continues Sheridan, 'that
he never passed two months so pleasantly in his life.' Swift's _Works_,
ed. 1803, ii. 104.

[911] Gibbon wrote on Feb. 21, 1772 (_Misc. Works_, ii. 78):--'To day
the House of Commons was employed in a very odd way. Tommy Townshend
moved that the sermon of Dr. Nowell, who preached before the House on
the 30th of January (_id est_, before the Speaker and four members),
should be burnt by the common hangman, as containing arbitrary, Tory,
high-flown doctrines. The House was nearly agreeing to the motion, till
they recollected that they had already thanked the preacher for his
excellent discourse, and ordered it to be printed.'


     'Although it be not _shined_ upon.'
            _Hudibras_, iii. 2, 175.

[913] According to Mr. Croker, this was the Rev. Henry Bate, of the
_Morning Post_, who in 1784 took the name of Dudley, was created a
baronet in 1815, and died in 1824. Horace Walpole wrote on Nov. 13, 1776
(_Letters_, vi. 39l):--'Yesterday I heard drums and trumpets in
Piccadilly: I looked out of the window and saw a procession with
streamers flying. At first I thought it a press-gang, but seeing the
corps so well-drest, like Hussars, in yellow with blue waistcoats and
breeches, and high caps, I concluded it was some new body of our allies,
or a regiment newly raised, and with new regimentals for distinction. I
was not totally mistaken, for the Colonel is _a new ally_. In short,
this was a procession set forth by Mr. Bate, Lord Lyttelton's chaplain,
and author of the old _Morning Post_, and meant as an appeal to the town
against his antagonist, the new one.' In June, 1781, Bate was sentenced
to a year's imprisonment 'for an atrocious libel on the Duke of
Richmond. He was the worst of all the scandalous libellers that had
appeared both on private persons as well as public. His life was
dissolute, and he had fought more than one duel. Yet Lord Sandwich had
procured for him a good Crown living, and he was believed to be
pensioned by the Court.' Walpole's _Journal of the Reign of George
III_, ii. 464.

[914] See _ante_, ii. 339, and iii. 265.

[915] Three days earlier, in the debate on the Westminster Scrutiny, Fox
accused 'a person of great rank in this House'--Pitt I believe--'of
adding pertness and personal contumely to every species of rash and
inconsiderate violence.' _Parl. Hist_. xxiv. 924. Pitt, in reply,
classed Fox among 'political apostates,' _ib_. p. 929. Burke, the same
evening, 'sat down saying, "he little minded the ill-treatment of a
parcel of boys."' When he was called to order, he said:--'When he used
the term "a parcel of boys," he meant to apply it to the ministry, who,
he conceived, were insulting him with their triumph; a triumph which
grey hairs ought to be allowed the privilege of expressing displeasure
at, when it was founded on the rash exultation of mere boys.' _Ib_. p.
939. Pitt, Prime-Minister though he was, in the spring of the same year,
was called to order by the Speaker, for charging a member with using
'language the most false, the most malicious, and the most slanderous.'
_Ib_. p. 763.

[916] _Epistles to Mr. Pope_, ii. 165.

[917] See an account of him, in a sermon by the Reverend Mr. Agutter.
BOSWELL. This sermon was published in 1788. In Hannah More's _Memoirs_
(i. 217), Henderson is described as 'a mixture of great sense, which
discovered uncommon parts and learning, with a tincture of nonsense of
the most extravagant kind. He believes in witches and apparitions, as
well as in judicial astronomy.' Mrs. Kennicott writes (_ib_. p.
220):--'I think if Dr. Johnson had the shaking him about, he would shake
out his nonsense, and set his sense a-working. 'He never got out into the
world, says Dr. Hall, the Master of Pembroke College, having died in
College in 1788.

[918] This was the second Lord Lyttelton, commonly known as 'the wicked
Lord Lyttelton.' Fox described him to Rogers as 'a very bad
man--downright wicked.' Rogers's _Table Talk_, p. 95. He died Nov. 27,
1779. Horace Walpole (_Letters_, vii. 292) wrote to Mason on Dec. 11
of that year:--'If you can send us any stories of ghosts out of the
North, they will be very welcome. Lord Lyttelton's vision has revived
the taste; though it seems a little odd that an apparition should
despair of being able to get access to his Lordship's bed in the shape
of a young woman, without being forced to use the disguise of a
robin-red-breast.' In the _Gent. Mag._ 1815, i. 597, and 1816, ii. 421,
accounts are given of this vision. In the latter account it is said that
'he saw a bird fluttering, and afterwards a woman appeared in white
apparel, and said, "Prepare to die; you will not exist three days."'
Mrs. Piozzi also wrote a full account of it. Hayward's _Piozzi_, i. 332.

[919] See _ante_, ii. 150, and iii. 298, note 1.

[920] See _ante_, p. 278.

[921] 'If he who considers himself as suspended over the abyss of
eternal perdition only by the thread of life, which must soon part by
its own weakness, and which the wing of every minute may divide, can
cast his eyes round him without shuddering with horror, or panting for
security; what can he judge of himself, but that he is not yet awakened
to sufficient conviction? &c.' _The Rambler_, No. 110. In a blank leaf
in the book in which Johnson kept his diary of his journey in Wales is
written in his own hand, 'Faith in some proportion to Fear.' Duppa's
Johnson's _Diary of a Journey &c_., p. 157. See _ante_, iii. 199.

[922] He wrote to Mrs. Thrale on March 20:--'Write to me no more about
_dying with a grace_; when you feel what I have felt in approaching
eternity--in fear of soon hearing the sentence of which there is no
revocation, you will know the folly.' _Piozzi Letters_, ii. 354. Of him
it might have been said in Cowper's words:--

     'Scripture is still a trumpet to his fears.'

_The Task: The Winter Morning Walk_, 1. 611. See _ante_, iii. 294.

[923] The Reverend Mr. Ralph Churton, Fellow of Brazen-Nose College,
Oxford, has favoured me with the following remarks on my Work, which he
is pleased to say, 'I have hitherto extolled, and cordially approve.'

'The chief part of what I have to observe is contained in the following
transcript from a letter to a friend, which, with his concurrence, I
copied for this purpose; and, whatever may be the merit or justness of
the remarks, you may be sure that being written to a most intimate
friend, without any intention that they ever should go further, they are
the genuine and undisguised sentiments of the writer:--

'Jan. 6, 1792.

'Last week, I was reading the second volume of Boswell's _Johnson_, with
increasing esteem for the worthy authour, and increasing veneration of
the wonderful and excellent man who is the subject of it. The writer
throws in, now and then, very properly some serious religious
reflections; but there is one remark, in my mind an obvious and just
one, which I think he has not made, that Johnson's "morbid melancholy,"
and constitutional infirmities, were intended by Providence, like St.
Paul's thorn in the flesh, to check intellectual conceit and arrogance;
which the consciousness of his extraordinary talents, awake as he was to
the voice of praise, might otherwise have generated in a very culpable
degree. Another observation strikes me, that in consequence of the same
natural indisposition, and habitual sickliness, (for he says he scarcely
passed one day without pain after his twentieth year,) he considered and
represented human life, as a scene of much greater misery than is
generally experienced. There may be persons bowed down with affliction
all their days; and there are those, no doubt, whose iniquities rob them
of rest; but neither calamities nor crimes, I hope and believe, do so
much and so generally abound, as to justify the dark picture of life
which Johnson's imagination designed, and his strong pencil delineated.
This I am sure, the colouring is far too gloomy for what I have
experienced, though as far as I can remember, I have had more sickness
(I do not say more severe, but only more in quantity,) than falls to the
lot of most people. But then daily debility and occasional sickness were
far overbalanced by intervenient days, and, perhaps, weeks void of pain,
and overflowing with comfort. So that in short, to return to the
subject, human life, as far as I can perceive from experience or
observation, is not that state of constant wretchedness which Johnson
always insisted it was; which misrepresentation, (for such it surely
is,) his Biographer has not corrected, I suppose, because, unhappily, he
has himself a large portion of melancholy in his constitution, and
fancied the portrait a faithful copy of life.'

The learned writer then proceeds thus in his letter to me:--

'I have conversed with some sensible men on this subject, who all seem
to entertain the same sentiments respecting life with those which are
expressed or implied in the foregoing paragraph. It might be added that
as the representation here spoken of, appears not consistent with fact
and experience, so neither does it seem to be countenanced by Scripture.
There is, perhaps, no part of the sacred volume which at first sight
promises so much to lend its sanction to these dark and desponding
notions as the book of _Ecclesiastes_, which so often, and so
emphatically, proclaims the vanity of things sublunary. But the design
of this whole book, (as it has been justly observed,) is not to put us
out of conceit with life, but to cure our vain expectations of a
compleat and perfect happiness in this world; to convince us, that there
is no such thing to be found in mere external enjoyments;--and to teach
us to seek for happiness in the practice of virtue, in the knowledge and
love of God, and in the hopes of a better life. For this is the
application of all; _Let us hear_, &c. xii. 13. Not only his duty, but
his happiness too; _For_ GOD, &c. ver. 14.--See _Sherlock on
Providence_, p. 299.

'The New Testament tells us, indeed, and most truly, that "sufficient
unto the day is the evil thereof;" and, therefore, wisely forbids us to
increase our burden by forebodings of sorrows; but I think it no where
says that even our ordinary afflictions are not consistent with a very
considerable degree of positive comfort and satisfaction. And,
accordingly, one whose sufferings as well as merits were conspicuous,
assures us, that in proportion "as the sufferings of Christ abounded in
them, so their consolation also abounded by Christ." 2 _Cor_. i. 5. It
is needless to cite, as indeed it would be endless even to refer to, the
multitude of passages in both Testaments holding out, in the strongest
language, promises of blessings, even in this world, to the faithful
servants of GOD. I will only refer to _St. Luke_, xviii. 29, 30, and 1
_Tim_. iv. 8.

'Upon the whole, setting aside instances of great and lasting bodily
pain, of minds peculiarly oppressed by melancholy, and of severe
temporal calamities, from which extraordinary cases we surely should not
form our estimate of the general tenour and complexion of life;
excluding these from the account, I am convinced that as well the
gracious constitution of things which Providence has ordained, as the
declarations of Scripture and the actual experience of individuals,
authorize the sincere Christian to hope that his humble and constant
endeavours to perform his duty, checquered as the best life is with many
failings, will be crowned with a greater degree of present peace,
serenity, and comfort, than he could reasonably permit himself to
expect, if he measured his views and judged of life from the opinion of
Dr. Johnson, often and energetically expressed in the Memoirs of him,
without any animadversion or censure by his ingenious Biographer. If he
himself, upon reviewing the subject, shall see the matter in this light,
he will, in an octavo edition, which is eagerly expected, make such
additional remarks or correction as he shall judge fit; lest the
impressions which these discouraging passages may leave on the reader's
mind, should in any degree hinder what otherwise the whole spirit and
energy of the work tends, and, I hope, successfully, to promote,--pure
morality and true religion.'

Though I have, in some degree, obviated any reflections against my
illustrious friend's dark views of life, when considering, in the course
of this Work, his _Rambler_ [_ante_, i. 213] and his _Rasselas_ [_ante_,
i. 343], I am obliged to Mr. Churton for complying with my request of
his permission to insert his Remarks, being conscious of the weight of
what he judiciously suggests as to the melancholy in my own
constitution. His more pleasing views of life, I hope, are just.
_Valeant quantum valere possunt_.

Mr. Churton concludes his letter to me in these words:--'Once, and only
once, I had the satisfaction of seeing your illustrious friend; and as I
feel a particular regard for all whom he distinguished with his esteem
and friendship, so I derive much pleasure from reflecting that I once
beheld, though but transiently near our College gate, one whose works
will for ever delight and improve the world, who was a sincere and
zealous son of the Church of England, an honour to his country, and an
ornament to human nature.'

His letter was accompanied with a present from himself of his _Sermons
at the Bampton Lecture_, and from his friend, Dr. Townson, the venerable
Rector of Malpas, in Cheshire, of his _Discourses on the Gospels_,
together with the following extract of a letter from that excellent
person, who is now gone to receive the reward of his labours:--'Mr.
Boswell is not only very entertaining in his works, but they are so
replete with moral and religious sentiments, without an instance, as far
as I know, of a contrary tendency, that I cannot help having a great
esteem for him; and if you think such a trifle as a copy of the
_Discourses, ex dono authoris_, would be acceptable to him, I should be
happy to give him this small testimony of my regard.'

Such spontaneous testimonies of approbation from such men, without any
personal acquaintance with me, are truly valuable and encouraging.


     'Tout se plaint, tout gémit en cherchant le bien-etre;
      Nul ne voudrait mourir, nul ne voudrait renaitre.'

Voltaire, _Le désastre de Lisbonne. Works_, ed. 1819, x. 124. 'Johnson
said that, for his part, he never passed that week in his life which he
would wish to repeat, were an angel to make the proposal to him.'
_Ante_, ii. 125. Yet Dr. Franklin, whose life overlapped Johnson's at
both ends, said:-'I should have no objection to go over the same life
from its beginning to the end, requesting only the advantage authors
have of correcting in a second edition the faults of its first. So would
I also wish to change some incidents of it for others more favourable
Notwithstanding, if this condition was denied, I should still accept the
offer of re-commencing the same life.' Franklin's _Memoirs_, i. 2.

[925] Mackintosh thus sums up this question:--'The truth is, that
endless fallacies must arise from the attempt to appreciate by
retrospect human life, of which the enjoyments depend on hope.' _Life of
Mackintosh_, ii. 160. See _ante_, ii. 350.

[926] In the lines on Levett. _Ante_, p. 137.

[927] AURENGZEBE, act iv. sc. 1. BOSWELL. According to Dr. Maxwell
(_ante_, ii. 124), Johnson frequently quoted the fourth couplet of these
lines. Boswell does not give the last--

     'I'm tired with waiting for this chemic gold
     Which fools us young, and beggars us when old.'

[928] Johnson, speaking of the companions of his college days, said:--
'It was bitterness which they mistook for frolick.' _Ante_, i. 73.


     '--to thee I call
     But with no friendly voice, and add thy name
     O Sun, to tell thee how I hate thy beams.'

Milton's _Paradise Lost_, iv. 35.

[930] Yet there is no doubt that a man may appear very gay in company
who is sad at heart. His merriment is like the sound of drums and
trumpets in a battle, to drown the groans of the wounded and
dying. BOSWELL.

[931] Mme. D'Arblay (_Memoirs of Dr. Burney_, ii. 103) tells how Johnson
was one day invited to her father's house at the request of Mr.
Greville, 'the finest gentleman about town,' as she earlier described
him (_ib_. i. 25), who desired to make his acquaintance. This 'superb'
gentleman was afraid to begin to speak. 'Assuming his most supercilious
air of distant superiority he planted himself, immovable as a noble
statue, upon the hearth, as if a stranger to the whole set.' Johnson,
who 'never spoke till he was spoken to' (_ante_, in. 307)--this habit
the Burneys did not as yet know--'became completely absorbed in silent
rumination; very unexpectedly, however, he shewed himself alive to what
surrounded him, by one of those singular starts of vision, that made him
seem at times, though purblind to things in common, gifted with an eye
of instinct for espying any action that he thought merited reprehension;
for all at once, looking fixedly on Mr. Greville, who without much
self-denial, the night being very cold, kept his station before the
chimney-piece, he exclaimed:--"If it were not for depriving the ladies
of the fire, I should like to stand upon the hearth myself." A smile
gleamed upon every face at this pointed speech. Mr. Greville tried to
smile himself, though faintly and scoffingly. He tried also to hold his
post; and though for two or three minutes he disdained to move, the
awkwardness of a general pause impelled him ere long to glide back to
his chair; but he rang the bell with force as he passed it to order his

[932] Page 139. BOSWELL.

[933] On this same day Miss Adams wrote to a friend:--'Dr. Johnson, tho'
not in good health, is in general very talkative and infinitely
agreeable and entertaining.' _Pemb. Coll. MSS_.

[934] Johnson said 'Milton was a _Phidias_, &c.' _Ante_, p. 99, note 1.
In his _Life of Milton_ (_Works, vii. 119) he writes:--'Milton never
learnt the art of doing little things with grace; he overlooked the
milder excellence of suavity and softness; he was a _Lion_ that had no
skill _in dandling the kid_.'

     ['Sporting the lion ramped, and in his paw
       Dandled the kid.'

       _Paradise Lost_, iv. 343.]

[935] Cardinal Newman (_History of my Religious Opinions_, ed. 1865, p.
361) remarks on this:--'As to Johnson's case of a murderer asking you
which way a man had gone, I should have anticipated that, had such a
difficulty happened to him, his first act would have been to knock the
man down, and to call out for the police; and next, if he was worsted in
the conflict, he would not have given the ruffian the information he
asked, at whatever risk to himself. I think he would have let himself be
killed first. I do not think that he would have told a lie.'

[936] See _ante_, iii. 376.

[937] Book ii. 1. 142.

[938] The annotator calls them 'amiable verses.' BOSWELL. The annotators
of the _Dunciad_ were Pope himself and Dr. Arbuthnot. Johnson's _Works_,
viii. 280.

[939] Boswell was at this time corresponding with Miss Seward. See
_post_, June 25.

[940] By John Dyer. _Ante_, ii. 453.

[941] Lewis's Verses addressed to Pope were first published in a
Collection of Pieces on occasion of _The Dunciad_, 8vo., 1732. They do
not appear in Lewis's own _Miscellany_, printed in 1726.--_Grongar Hill_
was first printed in Savage's _Miscellanies_ as an Ode, and was
_reprinted_ in the same year in Lewis's _Miscellany_, in the form it
now bears.

In his _Miscellanies_, 1726, the beautiful poem,--'Away, let nought to
love displeasing,'--reprinted in Percy's _Reliques_, vol. i. book iii.
No. 13, first appeared. MALONE.

[942] See _ante_, p. 58.

[943] See _ante_, i. 71, and ii. 226.

[944] Captain Cook's third voyage. The first two volumes by Captain
Cook; the last by Captain King.

[945] See _ante_, ii. 73, 228, 248; iii. 49.


     '--quae mollissima fandi Tempora.'
     '--time wherein the word May softliest be said.'

    MORRIS. Virgil, _Aeneids_, iv. 293.

[947] See _ante_, i. 71.

[948] See _ante_, i. 203, note 6.

[949] Boswell began to eat dinners in the Inner Temple so early as 1775.
_Ante_, ii. 377, note 1. He was not called till Hilary Term, 1786.
Rogers's _Boswelliana_, p. 143.

[950] Mr. (afterwards Sir) William Jones wrote two years earlier
(_Life_, p. 268):--'Whether it be a wise part to live uncomfortably in
order to die wealthy, is another question; but this I know by
experience, and have heard old practitioners make the same observation,
that a lawyer who is in earnest must be chained to his chambers and the
bar for ten or twelve years together.'

[951] Johnson's _Prologue at the opening of Drury Lane Theatre. Works,
_ i. 23.

[952] According to Mr. Seward, who published this account in his
_Anecdotes,_ ii. 83, it was Mr. Langton's great-grandfather who drew
it up.

[953] 'My Lord said that his rule for his, health was to be temperate
and keep himself warm. He never made breakfasts, but used in the morning
to drink a glass of some sort of ale. That he went to bed at nine, and
rose between six and seven, allowing himself a good refreshment for his
sleep. That the law will admit of no rival, nothing to go even with it;
but that sometimes one may for diversion read in the Latin historians of
England, Hoveden and Matthew Paris, &c. But after it is conquered, it
will admit of other studies. He said, a little law, a good tongue, and a
good memory, would fit a man for the Chancery.' Seward's
_Anecdotes_, ii. 92.

[954] Wednesday was the 16th

[955] See _ante_, i. 41.

[956] _Letters to Mrs. Thrale_, vol. ii. p. 372. BOSWELL.

[957] See _ante/_, i. 155.

[958] The recommendation in this list of so many histories little agrees
'with the fierce and boisterous contempt of ignorance' with which,
according to Lord Macaulay, Johnson spoke of history. Macaulay's
_Essays_, ed. 1843, i. 403.

[959] See _ante_, iii. 12.

[960] Northcote's account of Reynolds's table suits the description of
this 'gentleman's mode of living.' 'A table prepared for seven or eight
was often compelled to contain fifteen or sixteen.' There was a
'deficiency of knives and forks, plates and glasses. The attendance was
in the same style.' There were 'two or three undisciplined domestics.
The host left every one at perfect liberty to scramble for himself.'
'Rags' is certainly a strong word to apply to any of the company; but
then strong words were what Johnson used. Northcote mentions 'the
mixture of company.' Northcote's _Reynolds_, ii. 94-6. See _ante_, iii.
375, note 2.

[961] The Mayor of Windsor. Rogers's _Boswelliana_, p. 211.

[962] The passage occurs in Brooke's _Earl of Essex_(1761) at the close
of the first act, where Queen Elizabeth says:

               'I shall henceforth seek
     For other lights to truth; for righteous monarchs,
     Justly to judge, with their own eye