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Title: Macaulay's Life of Samuel Johnson - With a Selection from his Essay on Johnson
Author: Macaulay, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron, 1800-1859
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Macaulay's Life of Samuel Johnson - With a Selection from his Essay on Johnson" ***

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[Illustration: SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D.

From a photograph of the painting by John Opie, R.A., in the National
Portrait Gallery]











    COPYRIGHT, 1903, BY



    The Athenæum Press
    BOSTON · U.S.A.


The editor explains the difference between Macaulay's _Life of Johnson_
and Macaulay's _Essay on Johnson_ in the Introduction, IV, p. xxviii,
and gives his reason for printing only a portion of the _Essay_.



      I. AN INTRODUCTION TO MACAULAY                              ix


    III. THE STUDY OF MACAULAY                                   xxv

     IV. MACAULAY ON JOHNSON                                  xxviii

      V. REFERENCE BOOKS                                        xxix



    LIFE OF SAMUEL JOHNSON                                         1

          OF BOSWELL'S LIFE OF JOHNSON                            45

    NOTES                                                         77




Before Thomas Babington Macaulay was big enough to hold a large
volume he used to lie on the rug by the open fire, with his book on
the floor and a piece of bread and butter in his hand. Apparently the
three-year-old boy was as fond of reading as of eating, and even at
this time he showed that he was no mere bookworm by sharing with the
maid what he had learned from "a volume as big as himself." He never
tired of telling the stories that he read, and as he easily remembered
the words of the book he rapidly acquired a somewhat astonishing
vocabulary for a boy of his years. One afternoon when the little
fellow, then aged four, was visiting, a servant spilled some hot coffee
on his legs. The hostess, who was very sympathetic, soon afterward
asked how he was feeling. He looked up in her face and replied, "Thank
you, madam, the agony is abated." It was at this same period of his
infancy that he had a little plot of ground of his own, marked out by a
row of oyster shells, which a maid one day threw away as rubbish. "He
went straight to the drawing-room, where his mother was entertaining
some visitors, walked into the circle, and said, very solemnly, 'Cursed
be Sally; for it is written, Cursed is he that removeth his neighbor's

As these incidents indicate, the youngster was precocious. When he was
seven, his mother writes, he wrote a compendium of universal history,
and "really contrived to give a tolerably connected view of the leading
events from the Creation to the present time, filling about a quire
of paper." Yet, fond as he was of reading, he was "as playful as a
kitten." Although he made wonderful progress in all branches of his
education, he had to be driven to school. Again and again his entreaty
to be allowed to stay at home met his mother's "No, Tom, if it rains
cats and dogs, you shall go." The boy thought he was too busy with his
literary activities to waste time in school; but the father and mother
looked upon his productions merely as schoolboy amusements. He was to
be treated like other boys, and no suspicion was to come to him, if
they could help it, that he was superior to other children.

The wise parents had set themselves no easy task in their determination
to pay little attention to the unusual gifts of this lad. One
afternoon, when a child, he went with his father to make a social call,
and found on the table the _Lay of the Last Minstrel_, which he had
never before seen. While the others talked he quietly read, and on
reaching home recited as many stanzas as his mother had the patience or
the strength to hear. Clearly a boy who had read incessantly from the
time he was three years old, who committed to memory as rapidly as most
boys read, and who was eager to declaim poetry by the hour, or to tell
interminable stories of his own, would attract somebody's attention.
Fortunately for all concerned the lady who was particularly interested
in him, and who had him at her house for weeks at a time, Mrs. Hannah
More, encouraged without spoiling him, and rewarded him by buying books
to increase his library. When he was six or eight years old, she gave
him a small sum with which to lay "a corner-stone" for his library, and
a year or two afterward she wrote that he was entitled to another book:
"What say you to a little good prose? Johnson's 'Hebrides,' or Walton's
'Lives,' unless you would like a neat edition of 'Cowper's Poems,' or
'Paradise Lost,' for your own eating?" Whether he began at once to eat
Milton's great epic we are not told, but at a later period he said that
"if by some miracle of vandalism all copies of 'Paradise Lost' and 'The
Pilgrim's Progress' were destroyed off the face of the earth, he would
undertake to reproduce them both from recollection."[2]

Prodigy though he was, Thomas was more than a reader and reciter of
books. Much as he cared for them he cared more for his home,--that
simple, thrifty, comfortable home,--and his three brothers and five
sisters. His father, Zachary, did a large business as an African
merchant. This earnest, precise, austere man was so anxious for his
eldest son to have a thoroughly trained mind that he expected a
deliberation and a maturity of judgment that are not natural to an
impetuous lad. The good-natured, open-hearted boy reasoned with him
and pleaded with him, and whether successful or not in persuading his
father, loved him just the same. The mother, with all her love and
ambition for him, took the utmost pains to teach him to do thoroughly
whatever he undertook, in order that he might attain the perfect
development of character that comes alone from the most vigorous
training. His sister, Lady Trevelyan, writes: "His unruffled sweetness
of temper, his unfailing flow of spirits, his amusing talk, all made
his presence so delightful that his wishes and his tastes were our law.
He hated strangers and his notion of perfect happiness was to see us
all working round him while he read aloud a novel, and then to walk
all together on the Common, or, if it rained, to have a frightfully
noisy game of hide-and-seek." It was a habit in the family to read
aloud every evening from such writers as Shakspere, Clarendon, Miss
Edgeworth, Scott, and Crabbe; and, as a standing dish, the _Quarterly_
and the _Edinburgh Review_.

From this home, in which he was wisely loved, Thomas was sent to
a private school near Cambridge. Then his troubles began. The
twelve-year-old boy longed for the one attraction that would tempt him
from his books--home life--and months ahead he counted the days which
must pass before he could again see the home "which absence renders
still dearer." In August, 1813, he urged his mother for permission to
go home on his birthday, October 25: "If your approbation of my request
depends upon my advancing in study, I will work like a cart-horse. If
you should refuse it, you will deprive me of the most pleasing illusion
which I ever experienced in my life."[3] But the father shook his head
and the boy toiled on with his Greek and Latin. He wrote of learning
the Greek grammar by heart, he tried his hand at Latin verses, and he
read what he pleased, with a preference for prose fiction and poetry.

When eighteen years old (in October, 1818), Macaulay entered Trinity
College, Cambridge. But for mathematics he would have been made happy.
He writes to his mother: "Oh for words to express my abomination of
that science, if a name sacred to the useful and embellishing arts may
be applied to the perception and recollection of certain properties
in numbers and figures!... 'Discipline' of the mind! Say rather
starvation, confinement, torture, annihilation!"[4] There were prizes,
but Macaulay was not a prize winner. He was an excellent declaimer and
an excellent debater, and undoubtedly might have won more honors had
he been willing to work hard on the subjects prescribed, whether he
liked them or not. But he was eager to avoid the sciences, and he was
not content to be a mere struggler for honors. He was sensible enough
to enjoy the companionships the place afforded. He knew something of
the value of choosing comrades after his own heart, who were thoroughly
genuine and sincere, natural and manly. Even if, as Mr. Morison says,
the result of his college course was that "those faculties which were
naturally strong were made stronger, and those which were naturally
weak received little or no exercise," he wisely spent much time with
a remarkable group of young men, among whom Charles Austin was king.
Of Austin, John Stuart Mill says, "The impression he gave was that of
boundless strength, together with talents which, combined with such
apparent force of will and character, seemed capable of dominating the
world." And Trevelyan adds, "He certainly was the only man who ever
succeeded in dominating Macaulay." Austin it was who turned Zachary
Macaulay's eldest son from a Tory into a Whig. The boy had always
been interested in the political discussions held in his father's
house, a center of consultation for suburban members of Parliament,
and had learned to look at public affairs with no thought of ambition
or jealous self-seeking. This sort of training, supplemented by his
discussions at college, where he soon became a vigorous politician,
developed a patriotic, disinterested man.

In the midst of his inexpressible delight in the freedom the college
course gave him to indulge his fondness for literature and to spend
his days and nights walking and talking with his mates, he continued
to remember his family with affection, and did not neglect to write
home. On March 25, 1821, he wrote his mother: "I am sure that it is
well worth while being sick to be nursed by a mother. There is nothing
which I remember with such pleasure as the time when you nursed me
at Aspenden. The other night, when I lay on my sofa very ill and
hypochondriac, I was told that you were come! How well I remember with
what an ecstasy of joy I saw that face approaching me, in the middle of
people that did not care if I died that night, except for the trouble
of burying me! The sound of your voice, the touch of your hand, are
present to me now, and will be, I trust in God, to my last hour."[5]

On the first of October, 1824, two years after he had received the
degree of Bachelor of Arts, he wrote his father that he was that
morning elected Fellow, and that the position would make him almost
independent financially for the next seven years.

In 1824, too, he made his first address before a public assembly,--an
antislavery address that probably gave Zachary Macaulay the happiest
half hour of his life, that called out a "whirlwind of cheers" from the
audience, and enthusiastic commendation from the _Edinburgh Review_.
The next year Macaulay was asked to write for that famous periodical,
then at the height of its political, social, and literary power. He
contributed the essay on Milton and "like Lord Byron he awoke one
morning and found himself famous." The compliment for which he cared
most--"the only commendation of his literary talent which even in
the innermost domestic circle he was ever known to repeat"--came
from Jeffrey, the editor, when he acknowledged the receipt of the
manuscript: "The more I think, the less I can conceive where you picked
up that style."

When Macaulay entered college, his father considered himself worth at
least a hundred thousand pounds; but soon afterward he lost his money
and the eldest son found the other children looking to him for guidance
and support. As if it were the most natural thing in the world, he
drew freely on his income from the fellowship and his occasional
contributions to the _Edinburgh_. He was the sunshine of the home, and
apparently only those who knew him there got the best of his brilliancy
and wit.

In 1826 he was called to the bar, but he was becoming more and more
interested in public affairs and longed to be in Parliament. In 1830
Lord Lansdowne, who had been much impressed by Macaulay's articles
on Mill, and by his high moral and private character, gave him the
opportunity to represent Calne--"on the eve of the most momentous
conflict," says Trevelyan, "that ever was fought out by speech and
vote within the walls of a senate-house."[6] When the Reform Bill was
introduced, the opposition laughed contemptuously at the impossibility
of disfranchising, wholly or in part, a hundred and ten boroughs for
the sake of securing a fair representation of the United Kingdom in the
House of Commons. Two days later Macaulay made the first of his Reform
speeches, and "when he sat down, the Speaker sent for him, and told
him that, in all his prolonged experience, he had never seen the House
in such a state of excitement." That not only unsettled the House of
Commons but put an end to the question whether he should give his time
to law or to politics. During the next three years he devoted himself
to Parliament. Entering with his whole soul into the thickest of the
fight for reform, he made a speech on the second reading of the Reform
Bill which no less a critic than Jeffrey said put him "clearly at the
head of the great speakers, if not the debaters, of the House."[7]

Naturally the social advantages of the position appealed to Macaulay.
He appreciated the freedom, the good fellowship, the spirit of equality
among the members. "For the space of three seasons he dined out almost
nightly"; and for a man who at a time when his parliamentary fame
was highest, was so reduced that he sold the gold medals he had won
at Cambridge,--though "he was never for a moment in debt,"--it was
sometimes convenient to be a lion. Yet this "sitting up in the House
of Commons till three o'clock five days in the week, and getting an
indigestion at great dinners the remaining two," would not have been
the first choice of a man whose greatest joy "in the midst of all this
praise" was to think of the pleasure which his success would give to
his father and his sisters.

In June, 1832, the bill which Macaulay had supported so zealously and
so eloquently at every stage of the fight, finally became an act. As
a reward the great orator was appointed a commissioner of the Board
of Control, which represented the crown in its relations to the East
Indian directors. He held this commissionership only eighteen months,
however, for as a means of reducing expenses the Whig Government
suppressed it. It is to Macaulay's everlasting credit that he voted for
this economic measure at a time when his Trinity fellowship was about
to expire, and when the removal from office left him penniless.

Impatient to choose the first Reformed Parliament, the great cities
were looking about that autumn for worthy representatives. The Whigs
of Leeds got Macaulay's promise to stand for that town as soon as it
became a parliamentary borough. His attitude toward the electors whose
votes meant bread to him was as refreshing as it was striking. His
frank opinions they should have at all times, but pledges never. They
should choose their representative cautiously and then confide in him
liberally. Such independence was not relished in many quarters, but
Macaulay answered the remonstrants with even more vigor: "It is not
necessary to my happiness that I should sit in Parliament; but it is
necessary to my happiness that I should possess, in Parliament or out
of Parliament, the consciousness of having done what is right."[8]

His appointment as Secretary to the Board of Control was a help
financially, and his return to Parliament by Leeds proved to be of
very great assistance. Matters were going smoothly when the Government
introduced their Slavery Bill. To Zachary Macaulay, who had always been
a zealous abolitionist, the measure was not satisfactory. To please him
the son opposed it. In order that he might be free to criticise the
bill, simply as a member of Parliament, he resigned his position in the
Cabinet, although both he and his father thought this course of action
would be fatal to his career. A son whose devotion to his father leads
him to such lengths is not always so promptly rewarded as Macaulay was
in this instance, for the resignation was not accepted, the bill was
amended, and the Ministers were as friendly as ever.

Up to this time he had earned little money by his writing. After
giving his days to India and his nights to improving the condition of
the Treasury, he could get only snatches of time for turning off the
essays which we read with so much care. With a family depending on him
he now realized fully the need not of riches but of a competence. He
could live by his pen or by office; but he could not think seriously
of writing to "relieve the emptiness of the pocket" rather than "the
fullness of the mind," and if he must earn this competence through
office, the sooner he was through with the business the better. So it
was largely for the sake of his aged father, his younger brother, and
his dearly loved sisters, that he accepted an appointment as legal
adviser to the Supreme Council of India.

He and his sister Hannah sailed for India in February, 1834. He tells
us that he read during the whole voyage: the _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_,
Virgil, Horace, Cæsar's _Commentaries_, Bacon's _De Augmentis_, Dante,
Petrarch, Ariosto, Tasso, _Don Quixote_, Gibbon's _Rome_, Mill's
_India_, all the seventy volumes of Voltaire, Sismondi's _History of
France_, and the seven thick folios of the _Biographia Britannica_.
On his arrival he plunged into the new work. Not satisfied with the
immense amount already assigned him, he saw two large opportunities to
do more by serving on two committees. As president of the Committee
of Public Instruction he substituted for Oriental learning the
introduction and promotion of European literature and science among the
natives; as president of the Law Commission he took the initiative in
framing the famous Penal Code, the value of which must be judged from
the facts that "hardly any questions have arisen upon it which have had
to be determined by the courts, and that few and slight amendments
have had to be made by the Legislature."[9] He worked patiently, yet he
longed to be back in England, and it was a great relief when in 1838,
his work done, his competence saved, he was able to return. He was too
late to see his father again, for Zachary Macaulay had died while the
son was on the way home.

In the fall he went to Italy with his mind full of associations and
traditions. His biographer says that every line of good poetry which
the fame or the beauty of this country had inspired "rose almost
involuntarily to his lips." On this occasion he gave some of those
geographical and topographical touches to the _Lays of Ancient Rome_
"which set his spirited stanzas ringing in the ear of a traveller in
Rome at every turn." Much as he enjoyed Italy, he soon began to long
for his regular work, and the following February found him in London
again. In March he was unanimously elected to _the_ Club, and he was
making the most of his leisure for books when he felt it his duty to
enter Parliament for Edinburgh. "Office was never, within my memory,
so little attractive," he writes, "and therefore, I fear, I cannot,
as a man of spirit, flinch, if it is offered to me." Without any show
of reluctance he was made Secretary at War and given a seat in the
Cabinet. To this position the man who had begun life "without rank,
fortune, or private interest" had risen before his fortieth birthday.
On March 14, 1840, he wrote his intimate friend, Mr. Ellis, a good
account of his life at that time.[10]

"I have got through my estimates [for army expenses] with flying
colors; made a long speech of figures and details without hesitation
or mistake of any sort; stood catechising on all sorts of questions;
and got six millions of public money in the course of an hour or two. I
rather like the sort of work, and I have some aptitude for it. I find
business pretty nearly enough to occupy all my time; and if I have a
few minutes to myself, I spend them with my sister and niece; so that,
except while I am dressing and undressing, I get no reading at all. I
do not know but that it is as well for me to live thus for a time. I
became too mere a bookworm in India, and on my voyage home. Exercise,
they say, assists digestion; and it may be that some months of hard
official and Parliamentary work may make my studies more nourishing."

But the Queen's advisers did not have the confidence of the country,
there was a change of government, and Macaulay lost his office. How
the loss affected him we may gather from a part of his letter to Mr.
Napier, at that time the editor of the _Edinburgh Review_.

"I can truly say that I have not, for many years, been so happy as I
am at present.... I am free. I am independent. I am in Parliament,
as honorably seated as man can be. My family is comfortably off. I
have leisure for literature, yet I am not reduced to the necessity of
writing for money. If I had to choose a lot from all that there are in
human life, I am not sure that I should prefer any to that which has
fallen to me. I am sincerely and thoroughly contented."[11]

Carlyle says that a biography should answer two questions: (1) what
and how produced was the effect of society on the man; and (2) what
and how produced was his effect on society.[12] To the careful reader
of Trevelyan's _Life_ the words just quoted from Macaulay will give
a pretty fair notion of what, up to this time, Macaulay had got from
society. The other question, what he gave to society, is perhaps
best answered in the account of the remaining years of his life.
In Parliament, in society, and in literary and political circles
throughout the country there was the feeling that he had won the
respect and good will of all, and that he was to do something still
greater. What this greater thing was to be was the question that
confronted Macaulay for the next few years. Certainly it was not the
publishing of his _Lays_, although one hundred thousand copies of them
were sold by the year 1875. Nor was it the collecting and reprinting of
his _Essays_, although they have given hundreds of thousands of minds
a taste for letters and a desire for knowledge. One could hardly call
it the delivery of those vehement and effective parliamentary speeches
with which he held his audience spellbound, even if one of them did
secure the passing of the Copyright Bill in 1842 in practically its
present form. But while attending to these other matters, Macaulay had
on his mind an undertaking which was destined to satisfy, as far as
he carried it toward completion, the hopes of his most enthusiastic
admirers. In 1841 he had written to Napier, "I shall not be satisfied
unless I produce something which shall for a few days supersede the
last fashionable novel on the tables of young ladies."[13] In order
that he might give all his attention to this one project he soon
stopped writing for the _Edinburgh Review_; he denied himself no
little of the pleasure he had been getting from society; he gave up
more parliamentary honors than most others could ever hope to win. At
last, in 1848, he published the first volumes of a work that met with
a heartier welcome than the English-speaking world had given to any
historical work since the coming of Gibbon's _Decline and Fall of the
Roman Empire_. That these volumes of _The History of England_ were
the result of a very different kind of effort from that with which
Macaulay had dashed off the essays, may be inferred from a sentence
of Thackeray's, which Trevelyan says is no exaggeration: "He reads
twenty books to write a sentence; he travels a hundred miles to make a
line of description."[14] After all critics may say for or against the
_History_, it remains to note that Macaulay did what he undertook: he
wrote a history that is more readable than most novels.

In other ways we can trace his "effect on society." He was chosen Lord
Rector of the University of Glasgow in 1848. Prince Albert tried,
but in vain, to induce him to become Professor of Modern History at
Cambridge in 1849. He was asked, but declined--urging the plea that
he was not a debater--to join the Cabinet in 1852. The same year the
people of Edinburgh, ashamed of their failure to reëlect him five years
before, chose him to represent them in Parliament. Meantime he had
been well and happy. In his journal for October 25, 1850, he wrote:
"My birthday. I am fifty. Well, I have had a happy life. I do not know
that anybody, whom I have seen close, has had a happier. Some things I
regret; but, on the whole, who is better off? I have not children of
my own, it is true; but I have children whom I love as if they were my
own, and who, I believe, love me. I wish that the next ten years may be
as happy as the last ten. But I rather wish it than hope it."[15]

Macaulay may have surmised that the good health which had been such an
important factor in keeping him happy would not last much longer. At
any rate his last election to the House of Commons was followed by an
illness from which he never fully recovered, but through which, for
seven years, "he maintained his industry, his courage, his patience,
and his benevolence." Occasionally he treated the House to a "torrent
of words," but he understood that he must husband his powers for
work on books. To protect himself from a bookseller who advertised
an edition of his speeches, he made and published a selection of his
own, many of which he had to write from memory. Then he continued his
work on the _History_. Some of the time he had to "be resolute and
work doggedly," as Johnson said. "He almost gave up letter-writing;
he quite gave up society; and at last he had not leisure even for his
diary."[16] Yet of this immense labor he said, "It is the business and
the pleasure of my life."

As a result of this steady toil the writer secured an enviable
influence abroad. He was made a member of several foreign academies,
and translations have turned the _History_ into a dozen tongues. At
home, among the numerous honors, he was presented with the degree of
Doctor of Civil Law at Oxford, and made a peer--Baron of Rothley.
Naturally before receiving this last honor he had withdrawn from
Parliament, and from 1856 to the end of his life he enjoyed a retired
home, with a fine garden. He had plenty of time to cash the famous
check for twenty thousand pounds which the first edition of the
_History_ brought him, and to invest and spend it as he pleased. On
his fifty-seventh birthday he wrote in his diary, "What is much more
important to my happiness than wealth, titles, and even fame, those
whom I love are well and happy, and very kind and affectionate to me."

One of the chief sources of his happiness, one to which he was
particularly indebted these last days, was his love of reading. He
could no longer read fourteen books of the _Odyssey_ at a stretch
while out for a walk, but in the quiet of his library he enjoyed the
companionship of the author he happened to be reading as perhaps few
men could. He who could command any society in London failed to find
any that he preferred, at breakfast or at dinner, to the company of
Boswell; and it seems natural and fitting that he should be found
on that last December day, in 1859, "in the library, seated in his
easy-chair, and dressed as usual, with his book on the table beside

Equally fitting is it that in Poet's Corner, Westminster Abbey, the
resting place of Johnson, Garrick, Goldsmith, and Addison, there should
lie a stone with this inscription:

        OCTOBER 25TH, 1800.
        DECEMBER 28TH, 1859.
        "His body is buried in peace,
        but his name liveth for evermore."

For he left behind him a great and honorable name, and every action of
his life was "as clear and transparent as one of his own sentences."
His biography reveals the dutiful son, the affectionate brother, the
true friend, the honorable politician, the practical legislator, the
eloquent speaker, the brilliant author. It shows unmistakably that
greater than all his works was the man.


The very year in which the last volumes of Johnson's _Lives of the
Poets_ were published, 1781, Burns began to do his best work. In 1796
Burns died. In 1798, two years before Macaulay was born, Wordsworth and
Coleridge published the first of the _Lyrical Ballads_, which included
_The Rime of the Ancient Mariner_. Like Burns, yet in a way entirely
his own, Wordsworth was the poet of Nature and of Man, and this little
volume was the beginning of much spontaneous poetry which in the
following years proved a refreshing change from the polished couplets
which had been in fashion. Instead of Pope and Addison and Johnson, in
whose time literary men cared more for books than for social reforms,
more for manner than for matter, came Scott, Byron, Shelley, Coleridge,
Landor, and Southey with their irrepressible originality.

Before Macaulay's day Defoe, Richardson, Fielding, and Smollett had
each contributed something to the novel. During his lifetime came
practically all of the best work of Miss Austen, Scott, Cooper, Lytton,
Disraeli, Hawthorne, the Brontës, Dickens, Thackeray, Mrs. Gaskell,
Trollope, and Kingsley. George Eliot's _Adam Bede_ appeared the year he

Other prominent prose writers were Hallam, Grote, Milman, Froude, Mill,
Ruskin, and Carlyle. _In Memoriam_ and Mrs. Browning's _Sonnets from
the Portuguese_ were published in 1850, and Browning's _The Ring and
the Book_ came out in 1868.

As to Macaulay's relations with his literary contemporaries, it must
be understood that he gave practically his whole attention to the
times of which he read and wrote, and to the men who made those times
interesting. Scientists were making important discoveries day by
day, but his concern was not with them, even at a time when Darwin
was writing his _Origin of Species_. It was not clear to him that
philosophical speculations like Carlyle's might do much to better
the condition of humanity. He finished Wordsworth's _Prelude_ only
to be disgusted with "the old flimsy philosophy about the effect
of scenery on the mind" and "the endless wildernesses of dull,
flat, prosaic twaddle." Although he read an infinite variety of
contemporary literature he said he would not attempt to dissect works
of imagination. In 1838, when Napier wished him to review Lockhart's
_Life of Scott_ for the _Edinburgh Review_, he replied that he enjoyed
many of Scott's performances as keenly as anybody, but that many could
criticise them far better. He added: "Surely it would be desirable that
some person who knew Sir Walter, who had at least seen him and spoken
with him, should be charged with this article. Many people are living
who had a most intimate acquaintance with him. I know no more of him
than I know of Dryden or Addison, and not a tenth part so much as I
know of Swift, Cowper, or Johnson."[17] He turned instinctively to
the old books, the books that he had read again and again: to Homer,
Aristophanes, Horace, Herodotus, Addison, Swift, Fielding. There was at
least one writer of fiction in his time to whom he was always loyal.
On one occasion when he had been reading Dickens and Pliny and Miss
Austen at the same time, he declared that _Northanger Abbey_, although
"the work of a girl," was in his opinion "worth all Dickens and Pliny

What he did for humanity he did as a practical man of affairs, at home
alike in the Cabinet and in popular assemblies. While Carlyle in the
midst of his gloomy life was toiling heroically to banish shams and
to get at the True, the Real, Macaulay, who was reasonably satisfied
with the past and the present, and hopeful of the future, was sifting
from his vast treasury of information about the past what he believed
to be significant in history and important in literature. He had none
of the feeling that Ruskin had, that it was his duty to turn reformer,
but what he did toward educating his readers he did in the way he most


Once for all it must be remembered that Macaulay had no intention of
being studied as a text-book, and we must deal with him fairly. First
we should read the _Life_ through at a sitting without consulting a
note, just as we read an article in the _Atlantic Monthly_ or the
_Encyclopædia Britannica_. We should rush on with the "torrent of
words" to the end to see what it is all about, and to get an impression
of the article as a whole. As Johnson says: "Let him that is yet
unacquainted with the powers of Shakespeare, and who desires to feel
the highest pleasure that the drama can give, read every play from the
first scene to the last with utter negligence of all his commentators.
When his fancy is once on the wing, let it not stoop at correction or
explanation. When his attention is strongly engaged let it disdain
alike to turn aside to the name of Theobald and of Pope. Let him read
on through brightness and obscurity, through integrity and corruption;
let him preserve his comprehension of the dialogue and his interest
in the fable. And when the pleasures of novelty have ceased let him
attempt exactness and read the commentators."

Macaulay attracts attention not only to what he says but also to the
way in which he says it. In examining his style it will be a good plan
to ask ourselves whether the writer ever wanders from the subject,
or whether every part of the _Life_ contributes something to the one
subject under discussion. Naturally we find ourselves making topics,
such for example as Johnson's Youth, His Father, At Oxford. A list of
these topics gives us a bird's-eye view of the whole field and enables
us to examine the composition more critically. Has the writer arranged
the topics in the natural order? Does he give too much space to the
treatment of any one topic? Might any of them be omitted to advantage?

Having examined the larger divisions, we may profitably turn our
attention to the parts which constitute these divisions, the
paragraphs. First let us see whether he goes easily from one paragraph
to the next. For example, is the first sentence of paragraph 2 a good
connecting link with what precedes? In looking through the _Life_ for
these links, we should make up our minds whether they are studied or

Then let us test the unity of the paragraphs. Can each paragraph be
summed up in a single sentence? Does a combination of the opening and
the closing sentence ever serve the purpose? Does one or the other of
these ever answer of itself? Has every sentence some bearing on the
main thought, or might some sentences be omitted as well as not?

It will be equally profitable, at this point, to test the coherence
of half a dozen paragraphs. Does each sentence lead up naturally to
the next? Can the order of sentences be changed to advantage? When the
sentences in a paragraph hold together firmly, we should point out the
cause; when coherence is lacking, we should try to discover to what its
absence is due.

Then comes the question of emphasis. Let us see whether we can find
two or three paragraphs in which Macaulay succeeds particularly well
in emphasizing the main point. If we find three, let us see whether he
accomplishes his purpose in the same way each time.

For those of us who are still willing to learn something from
Macaulay's style, it is worth while to study the sentences. Selecting
two or three of the most interesting paragraphs, we may make the three
tests: (1) Is each sentence a unit? (2) Is the relation of every word
to the adjoining words absolutely clear? (3) Does the construction
emphasize what is important?

Then there is the vocabulary. Who does not enjoy the feeling that he
is enlarging his vocabulary? An easy way of doing it is to read two
or three times such a paragraph as the nineteenth, and then, with the
book closed, to write as much of it as possible from memory. As it is
not merely a large vocabulary that we wish, but a well chosen one, we
shall do well to compare our version with Macaulay's and see in how
many cases his word is better than ours. Have we, for example, equaled
"winning affability," or "London mud," or "inhospitable door"? Is his
word more effective than ours because it is more specific, or what is
the reason?

Before taking farewell of the _Life of Johnson_ there is another use to
which we may put the topics. We may use them as tests of our knowledge
of the essay. If we can write or talk fully and definitely on each of
the more important ones, we are sure to carry much food for thought
away with us. The value of a review of this sort is evident from a
glance at the following topics: Literary Life in London in Johnson's
Time, Johnson's Love Affair, The Dictionary, The Turning Point in
Johnson's Life, The Rambler, Rasselas, The Idler, His Shakspere,
The Club [His Conversation], Boswell, The Thrales, His Fleet Street
Establishment, The Lives of the Poets.

As we read Macaulay we should be particularly careful to think for
ourselves. Mr. Gladstone has said: "Wherever and whenever read, he will
be read with fascination, with delight, with wonder. And with copious
instruction too; but also with copious reserve, with questioning
scrutiny, with liberty to reject, and with much exercise of that

This means that we must follow him up, find out where he got his
information, see whether in his enthusiasm he has exaggerated. Then,
even if the critics do assure us that he is not one of the deep
thinkers, one of the very great writers, we may go on committing his
_Lays_ to heart, studying his _Essays_, and admiring those wonderfully
faithful pictures in his _History_. More than all else, as the years
go by, we are likely to find ourselves indebted to him for arousing
interest, for leading us to further reading.


Among the "hasty and imperfect articles" which Macaulay wrote for
the _Edinburgh Review_ was one on Croker's Edition of Boswell's
Life of Johnson. It appeared in 1831 and gave the writer a welcome
opportunity to show the inaccuracy and unreliability of Croker, one
of his political opponents. Nearly one half of his space he gave to
criticising the editor, and that part it seems wise to omit in this
edition; for we care more about Boswell and Johnson. Twenty-five years
later, in 1856, when Macaulay had ceased to write for reviews, but
sent an occasional article to the _Encyclopædia Britannica_, he wrote
what is generally called the _Life of Samuel Johnson_. The publisher
of the encyclopædia writes that it was entirely to Macaulay's friendly
feeling that he was "indebted for those literary gems, which could not
have been purchased with money"; that "he made it a stipulation of his
contributing that remuneration should not be so much as mentioned." The
other articles referred to are those on Atterbury, Bunyan, Goldsmith,
and William Pitt. One writer calls them "perfect models of artistic

It is interesting to compare the later work with the earlier: to see
whether there is any evidence of improvement in Macaulay's use of
English, and whether he gives us a better notion of Boswell and Johnson.


The book to which we naturally turn first to see whether Macaulay
knows his subject is Boswell's _Life of Johnson_; not the edition
in six volumes by Dr. George B. Hill, scholarly as it is, but some
such edition as Mr. Mowbray Morris's, published by the Macmillan
Company in one volume. When we read Boswell the first time, to get his
conception of his hero, we do not care to loiter on every page for
notes, interesting and instructive as they may be after the first rapid
reading. This single volume is so cheap that no one need hesitate to
buy it; then he may mark it up as much as he pleases and enjoy his own
book. The conscientious student need not feel obliged to read every
word of every episode, but may feel perfectly free to skip whatever
does not appeal to him, perfectly certain that before he has turned ten
pages he will stumble on something worth while.

The book which will do more than all others to illuminate the life
and character of Macaulay is _The Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay_,
written by his nephew, G. Otto Trevelyan. Harper & Brothers, the
publishers, have bound the two volumes in one which is so inexpensive
that every school library may easily afford it. Some critics think this
_Life_ ranks with Boswell's _Johnson_. It certainly is one of the most
readable biographies in the English language. Other useful books are
numerous, but among them all Carlyle's essay in reply to Macaulay's
_Essay on Boswell's Life of Johnson_ stands out first.


    ARBLAY, MADAME D'. Memoirs of Dr. Burney. (Contains "the most
            vivid account of Boswell's manner when in company with
            Dr. Johnson.")

    Boswelliana: the Commonplace Book of James Boswell. London,

    CARLYLE, THOMAS. Boswell's Life of Johnson.

    FITZGERALD, PERCY, M.A., F.S.A. Life of James Boswell with four
            portraits. 2 vols. London: 1891.

    LEASK, W. KEITH. James Boswell. (Famous Scots Series.)
            Edinburgh: 1897.

    STEPHEN, LESLIE. James Boswell (in the Dictionary of National


    BIRRELL, A. Dr. Johnson (in Obiter Dicta, Second Series).

    BOSWELL, JAMES. Life of Johnson including Boswell's Journal of
            a Tour to the Hebrides, etc., edited by George Birkbeck
            Hill, D.C.L., Pembroke College, Oxford, in six volumes.
            Oxford, 1897. ("Boswell's famous book has never before
            been annotated with equal enthusiasm, learning, and
            industry."--Austin Dobson.)

        The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D., including a Journal
                of his Tour to the Hebrides, by James Boswell, Esq.
                New edition, with numerous additions and notes, by
                The Right Hon. John Wilson Croker, M.P., to which
                are added ... 50 engraved illustrations. In ten
                volumes. London: 1839.

        The Life of Johnson edited by Alexander Napier, M.A.,
                London, 1884, also has several engravings.

        Dr. Henry Morley's edition of Boswell's work is
                illustrated with portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds.
                George Routledge & Sons, London, 1885.

    BROUGHAM, HENRY, LORD, F.R.S. Lives of Men of Letters of the
            Time of George III. London: 1856.

    GARDINER, S. R. A Student's History of England.

    GOSSE, EDMUND W. History of Eighteenth Century Literature.

    GREEN, J. R. A Short History of the English People.

    HILL, GEORGE BIRKBECK, D.C.L. Dr. Johnson, His Friends and
            His Critics. London: 1878.

    HOSTE, J. W. Johnson and His Circle. London: Jarrold & Sons.

    Johnson's Chief Lives of the Poets, Being those of Milton,
            Dryden, Swift, Addison, Pope, Gray, and Macaulay's
            Life of Johnson, with a Preface by Matthew Arnold, to
            which are appended Macaulay's and Carlyle's Essays on
            Boswell's Life of Johnson. Henry Holt & Company, New
            York, 1879.

    Johnson Club Papers by Various Hands. London: T. Fisher Unwin,

    Johnsoniana: Anecdotes of the late Samuel Johnson, LL.D., by
            Mrs. Piozzi, Bishop Percy, and others, together with
            the Diary of Dr. Campbell and extracts from that of
            Madame D' Arblay, newly collected and edited by Robina
            Napier. (Engravings and various autographs.) George
            Bell and Sons, London, 1884.

    JOHNSON, SAMUEL. The Idler. In the series of British Essayists.

        Lives of the Poets. A New Edition, with Notes and
                Introduction by Arthur Waugh, in six volumes.
                Scribner's Sons, 1896.

        London. In Hales's Longer English Poems.

        The Rambler. In the series of British Essayists.

        Rasselas. Leach, Shewell & Sanborn, or Henry Holt & Co.

        The Vanity of Human Wishes. In Hales's Longer English
                Poems and Syle's From Milton to Tennyson.

        The Works of Samuel Johnson. In nine volumes. Oxford.

    LECKY, W. E. H. History of England in the Eighteenth Century.

    PIOZZI, MRS. Anecdotes of the Late Samuel Johnson during the
            Last Twenty Years of his Life. 1786.

        Same, in the cheap National Series. The Cassell Company.

        Letters to and from the Late Samuel Johnson, LL.D. 1788.

    STEPHEN, LESLIE. History of English Thought in the Eighteenth

        Dr. Johnson's Writings (in Hours in a Library, Vol. II).

        Samuel Johnson. Dictionary of National Biography.

        Samuel Johnson. English Men of Letters Series. Harper &
                Brothers. (Cloth or paper.)


    BAGEHOT, WALTER. Thomas Babington Macaulay. (In Literary

    BREWER, E. COBHAM, LL.D. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. The
            Historic Note-book.

    CLARK, J. SCOTT. Thomas Babington Macaulay. (In A Study of
            English Prose Writers.)

    GLADSTONE, W. E. Gleanings of Past Years.

    HARRISON, FREDERIC. Lord Macaulay. (In Early Victorian

    MACAULAY, THOMAS B. Critical and Historical Essays, contributed
            to the _Edinburgh Review_. Trevelyan edition, in two
            volumes. Longmans, Green, and Co.

        The History of England from the Accession of James II.

        Works. Complete edition, by Lady Trevelyan, in eight
                volumes. Longmans, Green, and Co.

    MINTO, WILLIAM. Manual of English Prose Literature.

    MORISON, J. COTTER. Macaulay. (In English Men of Letters,
            edited by John Morley.)

    PATTISON, MARK. Macaulay. (In the Encyclopædia Britannica.)

    STEPHEN, LESLIE. Macaulay. (In the Dictionary of National
            Biography; in Hours in a Library.)

    TREVELYAN, G. OTTO. The Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay, in
            two volumes; also two volumes in one.


    BESANT, WALTER. London in the Eighteenth Century.

    HARE, AUGUSTUS JOHN. Walks in London.

    HUTTON, LAURENCE. Literary Landmarks of London.

    WHEATLEY, HENRY B. London, Past and Present.


    1800. Born.

    1814. Sent to boarding school.

    1818. Entered Trinity College, Cambridge.

    1822. Graduated as B.A.

    1824. Degree of M.A. Elected Fellow. First public speech.

    1825. First contribution to the _Edinburgh Review_: essay on

    1826. Called to the bar.

    1828. Commissioner of Bankruptcy.

    1830. Member of Parliament for Calne. First speech in

    1831. Speeches on the Reform Bill. Essay on Boswell's Life of

    1833. Member of Parliament for Leeds. Essay on Horace Walpole.

    1834. Essay on William Pitt, Earl of Chatham. Sailed for India
          as legal adviser to the Supreme Council.

    1837. Penal Code finished.

    1838. His father died. Returned to England. Visited Italy.

    1839. Elected to the Club. Member of Parliament for Edinburgh.
          Secretary at War.

    1840. Essay on Lord Clive.

    1841. Reëlected to Parliament for Edinburgh. Essay on Warren

    1842. Lays of Ancient Rome published.

    1843. Essay on Madame d'Arblay. Essay on the Life and Writings
          of Addison.

    1844. Essay on the Earl of Chatham. (The second essay on this
          subject, and his last contribution to the _Edinburgh

    1846. Paymaster-General of the Army. Defeated in Edinburgh

    1848. First two volumes of his History of England.

    1849. Lord Rector of the University of Glasgow.

    1852. Again elected to Parliament from Edinburgh, although not
          a candidate. Failing health.

    1854. Life of John Bunyan.

    1855. Third and fourth volumes of his History of England. (The
          fifth volume appeared after his death.)

    1856. Resigned his seat in Parliament. Life of Samuel Johnson.
          Life of Oliver Goldsmith.

    1857. Became Baron Macaulay of Rothley.

    1859. Life of William Pitt. Died December 28.


    1709. Born September 18.

    1728. Entered Pembroke College, Oxford. Turned Pope's Messiah
          into Latin verse.

    1731. Left Oxford. His father died.

    1735. Married. Opened an academy at Edial.

    1737. Went to London.

    1738. His first important work: London. Began to write for _The
          Gentleman's Magazine_.

    1744. Life of Savage.

    1747. Prospectus of the Dictionary.

    1749. The Vanity of Human Wishes. Irene.

    1750-1752. The Rambler.

    1752. Death of his wife.

    1755. Letter to Chesterfield. The Dictionary appeared.

    1758-1760. The Idler.

    1759. Death of his mother. Rasselas.

    1762. Pensioned.

    1763. Met Boswell for the first time.

    1764. The Club founded.

    1765. Made Doctor of Laws by Trinity College, Dublin.
          Introduced to the Thrales. His edition of Shakspere

    1773. Spent three months in Scotland.

    1775. Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland published.
          Taxation no Tyranny. Received the degree of Doctor in
          Civil Law from Oxford.

    1779. First four volumes of his Lives of the Poets.

    1781. The remaining six volumes of the Lives.

    1784. Died December 13.


(_December, 1856_)

 1. Samuel Johnson, one of the most eminent English
 writers of the eighteenth century, was the son of Michael
 Johnson, who was, at the beginning of that century, a magistrate
 of Lichfield, and a bookseller of great note in the midland
 counties. Michael's abilities and attainments seem to                 5
 have been considerable. He was so well acquainted with
 the contents of the volumes which he exposed to sale, that the
 country rectors of Staffordshire and Worcestershire thought
 him an oracle on points of learning. Between him and the
 clergy, indeed, there was a strong religious and political           10
 sympathy. He was a zealous churchman, and, though he had
 qualified himself for municipal office by taking the oaths to
 the sovereigns in possession, was to the last a Jacobite in heart.
 At his house, a house which is still pointed out to every
 traveller who visits Lichfield, Samuel was born on the 18th of       15
 September 1709. In the child, the physical, intellectual, and
 moral peculiarities which afterwards distinguished the man were
 plainly discernible; great muscular strength accompanied by
 much awkwardness and many infirmities; great quickness of
 parts, with a morbid propensity to sloth and procrastination;        20
 a kind and generous heart, with a gloomy and irritable temper.
 He had inherited from his ancestors a scrofulous taint, which
 it was beyond the power of medicine to remove. His parents
 were weak enough to believe that the royal touch was a specific
 for this malady. In his third year he was taken up to London,
 inspected by the court surgeon, prayed over by the court
 chaplains, and stroked and presented with a piece of gold by
 Queen Anne. One of his earliest recollections was that of a
 stately lady in a diamond stomacher and a long black hood.            5
 Her hand was applied in vain. The boy's features, which
 were originally noble and not irregular, were distorted by his
 malady. His cheeks were deeply scarred. He lost for a time
 the sight of one eye; and he saw but very imperfectly with
 the other. But the force of his mind overcame every impediment.      10
 Indolent as he was, he acquired knowledge with such
 ease and rapidity that at every school to which he was sent he
 was soon the best scholar. From sixteen to eighteen he resided
 at home, and was left to his own devices. He learned much at
 this time, though his studies were without guidance and without      15
 plan. He ransacked his father's shelves, dipped into a multitude
 of books, read what was interesting, and passed over what
 was dull. An ordinary lad would have acquired little or no useful
 knowledge in such a way: but much that was dull to ordinary
 lads was interesting to Samuel. He read little Greek; for his        20
 proficiency in that language was not such that he could take
 much pleasure in the masters of Attic poetry and eloquence.
 But he had left school a good Latinist; and he soon acquired,
 in the large and miscellaneous library of which he now had the
 command, an extensive knowledge of Latin literature. That            25
 Augustan delicacy of taste which is the boast of the great public
 schools of England he never possessed. But he was early
 familiar with some classical writers who were quite unknown
 to the best scholars in the sixth form at Eton. He was peculiarly
 attracted by the works of the great restorers of learning.           30
 Once, while searching for some apples, he found a huge folio
 volume of Petrarch's works. The name excited his curiosity;
 and he eagerly devoured hundreds of pages. Indeed, the
 diction and versification of his own Latin compositions show
 that he had paid at least as much attention to modern copies
 from the antique as to the original models.

 2. While he was thus irregularly educating himself, his family
 was sinking into hopeless poverty. Old Michael Johnson was
 much better qualified to pore upon books, and to talk about           5
 them, than to trade in them. His business declined; his debts
 increased; it was with difficulty that the daily expenses of his
 household were defrayed. It was out of his power to support
 his son at either university; but a wealthy neighbour offered
 assistance; and, in reliance on promises which proved to be of       10
 very little value, Samuel was entered at Pembroke College,
 Oxford. When the young scholar presented himself to the
 rulers of that society, they were amazed not more by his ungainly
 figure and eccentric manners than by the quantity of extensive
 and curious information which he had picked up during many           15
 months of desultory but not unprofitable study. On the first
 day of his residence he surprised his teachers by quoting Macrobius;
 and one of the most learned among them declared that
 he had never known a freshman of equal attainments.

 3. At Oxford, Johnson resided during about three years.              20
 He was poor, even to raggedness; and his appearance excited
 a mirth and a pity which were equally intolerable to his haughty
 spirit. He was driven from the quadrangle of Christ Church
 by the sneering looks which the members of that aristocratical
 society cast at the holes in his shoes. Some charitable person       25
 placed a new pair at his door; but he spurned them away in a
 fury. Distress made him, not servile, but reckless and ungovernable.
 No opulent gentleman commoner, panting for one-and-twenty,
 could have treated the academical authorities with
 more gross disrespect. The needy scholar was generally to be         30
 seen under the gate of Pembroke, a gate now adorned with
 his effigy, haranguing a circle of lads, over whom, in spite of
 his tattered gown and dirty linen, his wit and audacity gave
 him an undisputed ascendency. In every mutiny against the
 discipline of the college he was the ringleader. Much was
 pardoned, however, to a youth so highly distinguished by abilities
 and acquirements. He had early made himself known
 by turning Pope's Messiah into Latin verse. The style and
 rhythm, indeed, were not exactly Virgilian; but the translation       5
 found many admirers, and was read with pleasure by
 Pope himself.

 4. The time drew near at which Johnson would, in the
 ordinary course of things, have become a Bachelor of Arts:
 but he was at the end of his resources. Those promises of            10
 support on which he had relied had not been kept. His
 family could do nothing for him. His debts to Oxford tradesmen
 were small indeed, yet larger than he could pay. In the
 autumn of 1731, he was under the necessity of quitting the
 university without a degree. In the following winter his father      15
 died. The old man left but a pittance; and of that pittance
 almost the whole was appropriated to the support of his widow.
 The property to which Samuel succeeded amounted to no more
 than twenty pounds.

 5. His life, during the thirty years which followed, was             20
 one hard struggle with poverty. The misery of that struggle
 needed no aggravation, but was aggravated by the sufferings
 of an unsound body and an unsound mind. Before the young
 man left the university, his hereditary malady had broken forth
 in a singularly cruel form. He had become an incurable               25
 hypochondriac. He said long after that he had been mad all
 his life, or at least not perfectly sane; and, in truth,
 eccentricities less strange than his have often been thought grounds
 sufficient for absolving felons, and for setting aside wills. His
 grimaces, his gestures, his mutterings, sometimes diverted and       30
 sometimes terrified people who did not know him. At a dinner
 table he would, in a fit of absence, stoop down and twitch off
 a lady's shoe. He would amaze a drawing-room by suddenly
 ejaculating a clause of the Lord's Prayer. He would conceive
 an unintelligible aversion to a particular alley, and perform a
 great circuit rather than see the hateful place. He would set
 his heart on touching every post in the streets through which he
 walked. If by any chance he missed a post, he would go back
 a hundred yards and repair the omission. Under the influence          5
 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             10
 worst. A deep melancholy took possession of him, and gave
 a dark tinge to all his views of human nature and of human
 destiny. Such wretchedness as he endured has driven many
 men to shoot themselves or drown themselves. But he was
 under no temptation to commit suicide. He was sick of life;          15
 but he was afraid of death; and he shuddered at every sight
 or sound which reminded him of the inevitable hour. In religion
 he found but little comfort during his long and frequent
 fits of dejection; for his religion partook of his own character.
 The light from heaven shone on him indeed, but not in a              20
 direct line, or with its own pure splendour. The rays had
 to struggle through a disturbing medium; they reached him
 refracted, dulled and discoloured by the thick gloom which
 had settled on his soul; and, though they might be sufficiently
 clear to guide him, were too dim to cheer him.                       25

 6. With such infirmities of body and mind, this celebrated
 man was left, at two-and-twenty, to fight his way through the
 world. He remained during about five years in the midland
 counties. At Lichfield, his birthplace and his early home, he
 had inherited some friends and acquired others. He was kindly        30
 noticed by Henry Hervey, a gay officer of noble family, who
 happened to be quartered there. Gilbert Walmesley, registrar
 of the ecclesiastical court of the diocese, a man of distinguished
 parts, learning, and knowledge of the world, did
 himself honour by patronising the young adventurer, whose
 repulsive person, unpolished manners, and squalid garb moved
 many of the petty aristocracy of the neighbourhood to laughter
 or to disgust. At Lichfield, however, Johnson could find no
 way of earning a livelihood. He became usher of a grammar             5
 school in Leicestershire; he resided as a humble companion
 in the house of a country gentleman; but a life of dependence
 was insupportable to his haughty spirit. He repaired to Birmingham,
 and there earned a few guineas by literary drudgery.
 In that town he printed a translation, little noticed at the         10
 time, and long forgotten, of a Latin book about Abyssinia.
 He then put forth proposals for publishing by subscription the
 poems of Politian, with notes containing a history of modern
 Latin verse: but subscriptions did not come in; and the volume
 never appeared.                                                      15

 7. While leading this vagrant and miserable life, Johnson
 fell in love. The object of his passion was Mrs. Elizabeth
 Porter, a widow who had children as old as himself. To ordinary
 spectators, the lady appeared to be a short, fat, coarse
 woman, painted half an inch thick, dressed in gaudy colours,         20
 and fond of exhibiting provincial airs and graces which were
 not exactly those of the Queensberrys and Lepels. To Johnson,
 however, whose passions were strong, whose eyesight was
 too weak to distinguish ceruse from natural bloom, and who
 had seldom or never been in the same room with a woman of            25
 real fashion, his Titty, as he called her, was the most beautiful,
 graceful, and accomplished of her sex. That his admiration
 was unfeigned cannot be doubted; for she was as poor as
 himself. She accepted, with a readiness which did her little
 honour, the addresses of a suitor who might have been her            30
 son. The marriage, however, in spite of occasional wranglings,
 proved happier than might have been expected. The lover
 continued to be under the illusions of the wedding-day till the
 lady died in her sixty-fourth year. On her monument he
 placed an inscription extolling the charms of her person and
 of her manners; and when, long after her decease, he had
 occasion to mention her, he exclaimed, with a tenderness half
 ludicrous, half pathetic, "Pretty creature!"

 8. His marriage made it necessary for him to exert himself            5
 more strenuously than he had hitherto done. He took a
 house in the neighbourhood of his native town, and advertised
 for pupils. But eighteen months passed away; and only three
 pupils came to his academy. Indeed, his appearance was so
 strange, and his temper so violent, that his schoolroom must         10
 have resembled an ogre's den. Nor was the tawdry painted
 grandmother whom he called his Titty well qualified to make
 provision for the comfort of young gentlemen. David Garrick,
 who was one of the pupils, used, many years later, to throw
 the best company of London into convulsions of laughter by           15
 mimicking the endearments of this extraordinary pair.

 9. At length Johnson, in the twenty-eighth year of his age,
 determined to seek his fortune in the capital as a literary
 adventurer. He set out with a few guineas, three acts of the
 tragedy of Irene in manuscript, and two or three letters of          20
 introduction from his friend Walmesley.

 10. Never, since literature became a calling in England, had
 it been a less gainful calling than at the time when Johnson
 took up his residence in London. In the preceding generation
 a writer of eminent merit was sure to be munificently                25
 rewarded by the government. The least that he could expect
 was a pension or a sinecure place; and, if he showed any aptitude
 for politics, he might hope to be a member of parliament,
 a lord of the treasury, an ambassador, a secretary of state. It
 would be easy, on the other hand, to name several writers            30
 of the nineteenth century of whom the least successful has
 received forty thousand pounds from the booksellers. But
 Johnson entered on his vocation in the most dreary part of
 the dreary interval which separated two ages of prosperity.
 Literature had ceased to flourish under the patronage of the
 great, and had not begun to flourish under the patronage of
 the public. One man of letters, indeed, Pope, had acquired
 by his pen what was then considered as a handsome fortune,
 and lived on a footing of equality with nobles and ministers of       5
 state. But this was a solitary exception. Even an author
 whose reputation was established, and whose works were popular,
 such an author as Thomson, whose Seasons were in every
 library, such an author as Fielding, whose Pasquin had had a
 greater run than any drama since The Beggar's Opera, was             10
 sometimes glad to obtain, by pawning his best coat, the means
 of dining on tripe at a cookshop underground, where he could
 wipe his hands, after his greasy meal, on the back of a Newfoundland
 dog. It is easy, therefore, to imagine what humiliations
 and privations must have awaited the novice who had                  15
 still to earn a name. One of the publishers to whom Johnson
 applied for employment measured with a scornful eye that
 athletic though uncouth frame, and exclaimed, "You had
 better get a porter's knot, and carry trunks." Nor was the
 advice bad; for a porter was likely to be as plentifully fed,        20
 and as comfortably lodged, as a poet.

 11. Some time appears to have elapsed before Johnson
 was able to form any literary connection from which he could
 expect more than bread for the day which was passing over
 him. He never forgot the generosity with which Hervey, who           25
 was now residing in London, relieved his wants during this
 time of trial. "Harry Hervey," said the old philosopher
 many years later, "was a vicious man; but he was very
 kind to me. If you call a dog Hervey I shall love him."
 At Hervey's table Johnson sometimes enjoyed feasts which             30
 were made more agreeable by contrast. But in general he
 dined, and thought that he dined well, on sixpenny worth
 of meat, and a pennyworth of bread, at an alehouse near
 Drury Lane.

 12. The effect of the privations and sufferings which he
 endured at this time was discernible to the last in his temper
 and his deportment. His manners had never been courtly.
 They now became almost savage. Being frequently under the
 necessity of wearing shabby coats and dirty shirts, he became a       5
 confirmed sloven. Being often very hungry when he sat down
 to his meals, he contracted a habit of eating with ravenous
 greediness. Even to the end of his life, and even at the tables
 of the great, the sight of food affected him as it affects wild
 beasts and birds of prey. His taste in cookery, formed in            10
 subterranean ordinaries and alamode beefshops, was far from
 delicate. Whenever he was so fortunate as to have near him
 a hare that had been kept too long, or a meat pie made with
 rancid butter, he gorged himself with such violence that his
 veins swelled, and the moisture broke out on his forehead.           15
 The affronts which his poverty emboldened stupid and low-minded
 men to offer to him would have broken a mean spirit
 into sycophancy, but made him rude even to ferocity. Unhappily
 the insolence which, while it was defensive, was pardonable,
 and in some sense respectable, accompanied him into                  20
 societies where he was treated with courtesy and kindness. He
 was repeatedly provoked into striking those who had taken
 liberties with him. All the sufferers, however, were wise
 enough to abstain from talking about their beatings, except
 Osborne, the most rapacious and brutal of booksellers, who           25
 proclaimed everywhere that he had been knocked down by the
 huge fellow whom he had hired to puff the Harleian Library.

 13. About a year after Johnson had begun to reside in
 London, he was fortunate enough to obtain regular employment
 from Cave, an enterprising and intelligent bookseller, who           30
 was proprietor and editor of _The Gentleman's Magazine_. That
 journal, just entering on the ninth year of its long existence,
 was the only periodical work in the kingdom which then had
 what would now be called a large circulation. It was, indeed,
 the chief source of parliamentary intelligence. It was not then
 safe, even during a recess, to publish an account of the proceedings
 of either House without some disguise. Cave, however,
 ventured to entertain his readers with what he called
 "Reports of the Debates of the Senate of Lilliput." France            5
 was Blefuscu; London was Mildendo; pounds were sprugs; the
 Duke of Newcastle was the Nardac Secretary of State; Lord
 Hardwicke was the Hurgo Hickrad; and William Pulteney
 was Wingul Pulnub. To write the speeches was, during several
 years, the business of Johnson. He was generally furnished           10
 with notes, meagre indeed, and inaccurate, of what had been
 said; but sometimes he had to find arguments and eloquence
 both for the ministry and for the opposition. He was himself
 a Tory, not from rational conviction--for his serious
 opinion was that one form of government was just as good or          15
 as bad as another--but from mere passion, such as inflamed
 the Capulets against the Montagues, or the Blues of the Roman
 circus against the Greens. In his infancy he had heard so
 much talk about the villanies of the Whigs, and the dangers
 of the Church, that he had become a furious partisan when            20
 he could scarcely speak. Before he was three he had insisted
 on being taken to hear Sacheverell preach at Lichfield Cathedral,
 and had listened to the sermon with as much respect,
 and probably with as much intelligence, as any Staffordshire
 squire in the congregation. The work which had been begun            25
 in the nursery had been completed by the university. Oxford,
 when Johnson resided there, was the most Jacobitical place
 in England; and Pembroke was one of the most Jacobitical
 colleges in Oxford. The prejudices which he brought up
 to London were scarcely less absurd than those of his own            30
 Tom Tempest. Charles II. and James II. were two of the
 best kings that ever reigned. Laud, a poor creature who
 never did, said, or wrote anything indicating more than the
 ordinary capacity of an old woman, was a prodigy of parts and
 learning over whose tomb Art and Genius still continued to
 weep. Hampden deserved no more honourable name than
 that of "the zealot of rebellion." Even the ship money, condemned
 not less decidedly by Falkland and Clarendon than by
 the bitterest Roundheads, Johnson would not pronounce to              5
 have been an unconstitutional impost. Under a government,
 the mildest that had ever been known in the world--under a
 government, which allowed to the people an unprecedented
 liberty of speech and action--he fancied that he was a slave;
 he assailed the ministry with obloquy which refuted itself, and      10
 regretted the lost freedom and happiness of those golden days
 in which a writer who had taken but one-tenth part of the
 license allowed to him would have been pilloried, mangled
 with the shears, whipped at the cart's tail, and flung into a
 noisome dungeon to die. He hated dissenters and stock-jobbers,       15
 the excise and the army, septennial parliaments, and
 continental connections. He long had an aversion to the
 Scotch, an aversion of which he could not remember the commencement,
 but which, he owned, had probably originated in
 his abhorrence of the conduct of the nation during the Great         20
 Rebellion. It is easy to guess in what manner debates on
 great party questions were likely to be reported by a man
 whose judgment was so much disordered by party spirit. A
 show of fairness was indeed necessary to the prosperity of the
 Magazine. But Johnson long afterwards owned that, though             25
 he had saved appearances, he had taken care that the Whig
 dogs should not have the best of it; and, in fact, every passage
 which has lived, every passage which bears the marks of
 his higher faculties, is put into the mouth of some member
 of the opposition.                                                   30

 14. A few weeks after Johnson had entered on these
 obscure labours, he published a work which at once placed
 him high among the writers of his age. It is probable that
 what he had suffered during his first year in London had often
 reminded him of some parts of that noble poem in which
 Juvenal had described the misery and degradation of a needy
 man of letters, lodged among the pigeons' nests in the tottering
 garrets which overhung the streets of Rome. Pope's
 admirable imitations of Horace's Satires and Epistles had             5
 recently appeared, were in every hand, and were by many
 readers thought superior to the originals. What Pope had
 done for Horace, Johnson aspired to do for Juvenal. The
 enterprise was bold, and yet judicious. For between Johnson
 and Juvenal there was much in common, much more certainly            10
 than between Pope and Horace.

 15. Johnson's London appeared without his name in
 May 1738. He received only ten guineas for this stately and
 vigorous poem: but the sale was rapid, and the success complete.
 A second edition was required within a week. Those                   15
 small critics who are always desirous to lower established
 reputations ran about proclaiming that the anonymous satirist
 was superior to Pope in Pope's own peculiar department of
 literature. It ought to be remembered, to the honour of Pope,
 that he joined heartily in the applause with which the appearance    20
 of a rival genius was welcomed. He made inquiries about
 the author of London. Such a man, he said, could not long
 be concealed. The name was soon discovered; and Pope,
 with great kindness, exerted himself to obtain an academical
 degree and the mastership of a grammar school for the poor           25
 young poet. The attempt failed, and Johnson remained a
 bookseller's hack.

 16. It does not appear that these two men, the most
 eminent writer of the generation which was going out, and
 the most eminent writer of the generation which was coming           30
 in, ever saw each other. They lived in very different circles,
 one surrounded by dukes and earls, the other by starving
 pamphleteers and indexmakers. Among Johnson's associates
 at this time may be mentioned Boyse, who, when his shirts
 were pledged, scrawled Latin verses sitting up in bed with his
 arms through two holes in his blanket, who composed very
 respectable sacred poetry when he was sober, and who was at
 last run over by a hackney coach when he was drunk; Hoole,
 surnamed the metaphysical tailor, who, instead of attending           5
 to his measures, used to trace geometrical diagrams on the
 board where he sate cross-legged; and the penitent impostor,
 George Psalmanazar, who, after poring all day, in a humble
 lodging, on the folios of Jewish rabbis and Christian fathers,
 indulged himself at night with literary and theological              10
 conversation at an alehouse in the city. But the most remarkable
 of the persons with whom at this time Johnson consorted
 was Richard Savage, an earl's son, a shoemaker's apprentice,
 who had seen life in all its forms, who had feasted among blue
 ribands in Saint James's Square, and had lain with fifty pounds'     15
 weight of iron on his legs in the condemned ward of Newgate.
 This man had, after many vicissitudes of fortune, sunk at last
 into abject and hopeless poverty. His pen had failed him.
 His patrons had been taken away by death, or estranged by
 the riotous profusion with which he squandered their bounty,         20
 and the ungrateful insolence with which he rejected their
 advice. He now lived by begging. He dined on venison
 and champagne whenever he had been so fortunate as to
 borrow a guinea. If his questing had been unsuccessful, he
 appeased the rage of hunger with some scraps of broken meat,         25
 and lay down to rest under the Piazza of Covent Garden in
 warm weather, and, in cold weather, as near as he could get
 to the furnace of a glass house. Yet, in his misery, he was still
 an agreeable companion. He had an inexhaustible store of
 anecdotes about that gay and brilliant world from which he           30
 was now an outcast. He had observed the great men of both
 parties in hours of careless relaxation, had seen the leaders
 of opposition without the mask of patriotism, and had heard
 the prime minister roar with laughter and tell stories not over
 decent. During some months Savage lived in the closest
 familiarity with Johnson; and then the friends parted, not
 without tears. Johnson remained in London to drudge for
 Cave. Savage went to the West of England, lived there as
 he had lived everywhere, and, in 1743, died, penniless and            5
 heart-broken, in Bristol gaol.

 17. Soon after his death, while the public curiosity was
 strongly excited about his extraordinary character, and his
 not less extraordinary adventures, a life of him appeared
 widely different from the catchpenny lives of eminent men            10
 which were then a staple article of manufacture in Grub
 Street. The style was indeed deficient in ease and variety;
 and the writer was evidently too partial to the Latin element
 of our language. But the little work, with all its faults, was
 a masterpiece. No finer specimen of literary biography existed       15
 in any language, living or dead; and a discerning critic might
 have confidently predicted that the author was destined to be
 the founder of a new school of English eloquence.

 18. The life of Savage was anonymous; but it was well
 known in literary circles that Johnson was the writer. During        20
 the three years which followed, he produced no important
 work; but he was not, and indeed could not be, idle. The fame
 of his abilities and learning continued to grow. Warburton
 pronounced him a man of parts and genius; and the praise
 of Warburton was then no light thing. Such was Johnson's             25
 reputation that, in 1747, several eminent booksellers combined
 to employ him in the arduous work of preparing a
 Dictionary of the English language, in two folio volumes. The
 sum which they agreed to pay him was only fifteen hundred
 guineas; and out of this sum he had to pay several poor men          30
 of letters who assisted him in the humbler parts of his task.

 19. The prospectus of the Dictionary he addressed to the
 Earl of Chesterfield. Chesterfield had long been celebrated
 for the politeness of his manners, the brilliancy of his wit,
 and the delicacy of his taste. He was acknowledged to be
 the finest speaker in the House of Lords. He had recently
 governed Ireland, at a momentous conjuncture, with eminent
 firmness, wisdom, and humanity; and he had since become
 Secretary of State. He received Johnson's homage with the             5
 most winning affability, and requited it with a few guineas,
 bestowed doubtless in a very graceful manner, but was by no
 means desirous to see all his carpets blackened with the London
 mud, and his soups and wines thrown to right and left over
 the gowns of fine ladies and the waistcoats of fine gentlemen,       10
 by an absent, awkward scholar, who gave strange starts and
 uttered strange growls, who dressed like a scarecrow, and ate
 like a cormorant. During some time Johnson continued to
 call on his patron, but after being repeatedly told by the
 porter that his lordship was not at home, took the hint, and         15
 ceased to present himself at the inhospitable door.

 20. Johnson had flattered himself that he should have completed
 his Dictionary by the end of 1750; but it was not till
 1755 that he at length gave his huge volumes to the world.
 During the seven years which he passed in the drudgery of            20
 penning definitions and marking quotations for transcription,
 he sought for relaxation in literary labour of a more agreeable
 kind. In 1749 he published the Vanity of Human Wishes,
 an excellent imitation of the Tenth Satire of Juvenal. It is
 in truth not easy to say whether the palm belongs to the             25
 ancient or to the modern poet. The couplets in which the
 fall of Wolsey is described, though lofty and sonorous, are feeble
 when compared with the wonderful lines which bring before us
 all Rome in tumult on the day of the fall of Sejanus, the laurels
 on the doorposts, the white bull stalking towards the Capitol,       30
 the statues rolling down from their pedestals, the flatterers of
 the disgraced minister running to see him dragged with a hook
 through the streets, and to have a kick at his carcase before
 it is hurled into the Tiber. It must be owned too that in the
 concluding passage the Christian moralist has not made the
 most of his advantages, and has fallen decidedly short of
 the sublimity of his pagan model. On the other hand, Juvenal's
 Hannibal must yield to Johnson's Charles; and Johnson's
 vigorous and pathetic enumeration of the miseries of a literary       5
 life must be allowed to be superior to Juvenal's lamentation
 over the fate of Demosthenes and Cicero.

 21. For the copyright of the Vanity of Human Wishes
 Johnson received only fifteen guineas.

 22. A few days after the publication of this poem, his               10
 tragedy, begun many years before, was brought on the stage.
 His pupil, David Garrick, had, in 1741, made his appearance
 on a humble stage in Goodman's Fields, had at once risen to the
 first place among actors, and was now, after several years of
 almost uninterrupted success, manager of Drury Lane Theatre.         15
 The relation between him and his old preceptor was of a very
 singular kind. They repelled each other strongly, and yet
 attracted each other strongly. Nature had made them of very
 different clay; and circumstances had fully brought out the
 natural peculiarities of both. Sudden prosperity had turned          20
 Garrick's head. Continued adversity had soured Johnson's
 temper. Johnson saw with more envy than became so great
 a man the villa, the plate, the china, the Brussels carpet, which
 the little mimic had got by repeating, with grimaces and
 gesticulations, what wiser men had written; and the exquisitely      25
 sensitive vanity of Garrick was galled by the thought that,
 while all the rest of the world was applauding him, he could
 obtain from one morose cynic, whose opinion it was impossible
 to despise, scarcely any compliment not acidulated with scorn.
 Yet the two Lichfield men had so many early recollections in         30
 common, and sympathised with each other on so many points
 on which they sympathised with nobody else in the vast population
 of the capital, that, though the master was often provoked
 by the monkey-like impertinence of the pupil, and the
 pupil by the bearish rudeness of the master, they remained
 friends till they were parted by death. Garrick now brought
 Irene out, with alterations sufficient to displease the author,
 yet not sufficient to make the piece pleasing to the audience.
 The public, however, listened with little emotion, but with           5
 much civility, to five acts of monotonous declamation. After
 nine representations the play was withdrawn. It is, indeed,
 altogether unsuited to the stage, and, even when perused in
 the closet, will be found hardly worthy of the author. He had
 not the slightest notion of what blank verse should be. A            10
 change in the last syllable of every other line would make the
 versification of the Vanity of Human Wishes closely resemble
 the versification of Irene. The poet, however, cleared, by
 his benefit nights, and by the sale of the copyright of his
 tragedy, about three hundred pounds, then a great sum in             15
 his estimation.

 23. About a year after the representation of Irene, he
 began to publish a series of short essays on morals, manners,
 and literature. This species of composition had been brought
 into fashion by the success of the Tatler, and by the still more     20
 brilliant success of the Spectator. A crowd of small writers
 had vainly attempted to rival Addison. The Lay Monastery,
 the Censor, the Freethinker, the Plain Dealer, the Champion,
 and other works of the same kind, had had their short day.
 None of them had obtained a permanent place in our literature;       25
 and they are now to be found only in the libraries of
 the curious. At length Johnson undertook the adventure in
 which so many aspirants had failed. In the thirty-sixth year
 after the appearance of the last number of the Spectator
 appeared the first number of the Rambler. From March                 30
 1750 to March 1752, this paper continued to come out every
 Tuesday and Saturday.

 24. From the first the Rambler was enthusiastically admired
 by a few eminent men. Richardson, when only five numbers
 had appeared, pronounced it equal, if not superior, to the
 Spectator. Young and Hartley expressed their approbation
 not less warmly. Bubb Dodington, among whose many faults
 indifference to the claims of genius and learning cannot be
 reckoned, solicited the acquaintance of the writer. In                5
 consequence probably of the good offices of Dodington, who was
 then the confidential adviser of Prince Frederic, two of His
 Royal Highness's gentlemen carried a gracious message to
 the printing office, and ordered seven copies for Leicester
 House. But these overtures seem to have been very coldly             10
 received. Johnson had had enough of the patronage of the
 great to last him all his life, and was not disposed to haunt
 any other door as he had haunted the door of Chesterfield.

 25. By the public the Rambler was at first very coldly
 received. Though the price of a number was only twopence,            15
 the sale did not amount to five hundred. The profits were
 therefore very small. But as soon as the flying leaves were
 collected and reprinted they became popular. The author
 lived to see thirteen thousand copies spread over England
 alone. Separate editions were published for the Scotch and           20
 Irish markets. A large party pronounced the style perfect, so
 absolutely perfect that in some essays it would be impossible
 for the writer himself to alter a single word for the better.
 Another party, not less numerous, vehemently accused him of
 having corrupted the purity of the English tongue. The best          25
 critics admitted that his diction was too monotonous, too
 obviously artificial, and now and then turgid even to absurdity.
 But they did justice to the acuteness of his observations on
 morals and manners, to the constant precision and frequent
 brilliancy of his language, to the weighty and magnificent           30
 eloquence of many serious passages, and to the solemn yet
 pleasing humour of some of the lighter papers. On the question
 of precedence between Addison and Johnson, a question
 which, seventy years ago, was much disputed, posterity has
 pronounced a decision from which there is no appeal. Sir
 Roger, his chaplain and his butler, Will Wimble and Will
 Honeycomb, the Vision of Mirza, the Journal of the Retired
 Citizen, the Everlasting Club, the Dunmow Flitch, the Loves
 of Hilpah and Shalum, the Visit to the Exchange, and the              5
 Visit to the Abbey, are known to everybody. But many men
 and women, even of highly cultivated minds, are unacquainted
 with Squire Bluster and Mrs. Busy, Quisquilius and Venustulus,
 the Allegory of Wit and Learning, the Chronicle of the Revolutions
 of a Garret, and the sad fate of Aningait and Ajut.                  10

 26. The last Rambler was written in a sad and gloomy
 hour. Mrs. Johnson had been given over by the physicians.
 Three days later she died. She left her husband almost
 broken-hearted. Many people had been surprised to see a
 man of his genius and learning stooping to every drudgery,           15
 and denying himself almost every comfort, for the purpose of
 supplying a silly, affected old woman with superfluities, which
 she accepted with but little gratitude. But all his affection
 had been concentrated on her. He had neither brother nor
 sister, neither son nor daughter. To him she was beautiful as        20
 the Gunnings, and witty as Lady Mary. Her opinion of his
 writings was more important to him than the voice of the
 pit of Drury Lane Theatre or the judgment of the Monthly
 Review. The chief support which had sustained him through
 the most arduous labour of his life was the hope that she would      25
 enjoy the fame and the profit which he anticipated from his
 Dictionary. She was gone; and in that vast labyrinth of
 streets, peopled by eight hundred thousand human beings,
 he was alone. Yet it was necessary for him to set himself, as
 he expressed it, doggedly to work. After three more laborious        30
 years, the Dictionary was at length complete.

 27. It had been generally supposed that this great work
 would be dedicated to the eloquent and accomplished nobleman
 to whom the prospectus had been addressed. He well
 knew the value of such a compliment; and therefore, when
 the day of publication drew near, he exerted himself to soothe,
 by a show of zealous and at the same time of delicate and
 judicious kindness, the pride which he had so cruelly wounded.
 Since the Ramblers had ceased to appear, the town had been            5
 entertained by a journal called The World, to which many men
 of high rank and fashion contributed. In two successive numbers
 of the World the Dictionary was, to use the modern phrase,
 puffed with wonderful skill. The writings of Johnson were
 warmly praised. It was proposed that he should be invested           10
 with the authority of a Dictator, nay, of a Pope, over our
 language, and that his decisions about the meaning and the
 spelling of words should be received as final. His two folios,
 it was said, would of course be bought by everybody who could
 afford to buy them. It was soon known that these papers were         15
 written by Chesterfield. But the just resentment of Johnson
 was not to be so appeased. In a letter written with singular
 energy and dignity of thought and language, he repelled the
 tardy advances of his patron. The Dictionary came forth without
 a dedication. In the preface the author truly declared that          20
 he owed nothing to the great, and described the difficulties with
 which he had been left to struggle so forcibly and pathetically
 that the ablest and most malevolent of all the enemies of his
 fame, Horne Tooke, never could read that passage without tears.

 28. The public, on this occasion, did Johnson full justice,          25
 and something more than justice. The best lexicographer
 may well be content if his productions are received by the
 world with cold esteem. But Johnson's Dictionary was hailed
 with an enthusiasm such as no similar work has ever excited.
 It was indeed the first dictionary which could be read with          30
 pleasure. The definitions show so much acuteness of thought
 and command of language, and the passages quoted from poets,
 divines, and philosophers are so skilfully selected, that a leisure
 hour may always be very agreeably spent in turning over the
 pages. The faults of the book resolve themselves, for the most
 part, into one great fault. Johnson was a wretched etymologist.
 He knew little or nothing of any Teutonic language
 except English, which indeed, as he wrote it, was scarcely a
 Teutonic language; and thus he was absolutely at the mercy            5
 of Junius and Skinner.

 29. The Dictionary, though it raised Johnson's fame, added
 nothing to his pecuniary means. The fifteen hundred guineas
 which the booksellers had agreed to pay him had been advanced
 and spent before the last sheets issued from the press. It is        10
 painful to relate that, twice in the course of the year which
 followed the publication of this great work, he was arrested
 and carried to spunging-houses, and that he was twice indebted
 for his liberty to his excellent friend Richardson. It was still
 necessary for the man who had been formally saluted by the           15
 highest authority as Dictator of the English language to supply
 his wants by constant toil. He abridged his Dictionary. He
 proposed to bring out an edition of Shakspeare by subscription;
 and many subscribers sent in their names and laid down their
 money; but he soon found the task so little to his taste that        20
 he turned to more attractive employments. He contributed
 many papers to a new monthly journal, which was called the
 Literary Magazine. Few of these papers have much interest;
 but among them was the very best thing that he ever wrote, a
 masterpiece both of reasoning and of satirical pleasantry, the       25
 review of Jenyns's Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Evil.

 30. In the spring of 1758 Johnson put forth the first of a
 series of essays, entitled The Idler. During two years these
 essays continued to appear weekly. They were eagerly read,
 widely circulated, and, indeed, impudently pirated, while they       30
 were still in the original form, and had a large sale when
 collected into volumes. The Idler may be described as a second
 part of the Rambler, somewhat livelier and somewhat weaker
 than the first part.

 31. While Johnson was busied with his Idlers, his mother, who
 had accomplished her ninetieth year, died at Lichfield. It was
 long since he had seen her; but he had not failed to contribute
 largely, out of his small means, to her comfort. In order to
 defray the charges of her funeral, and to pay some debts which        5
 she had left, he wrote a little book in a single week, and sent
 off the sheets to the press without reading them over. A
 hundred pounds were paid him for the copyright; and the
 purchasers had great cause to be pleased with their bargain;
 for the book was Rasselas.                                           10

 32. The success of Rasselas was great, though such ladies
 as Miss Lydia Languish must have been grievously disappointed
 when they found that the new volume from the circulating
 library was little more than a dissertation on the author's
 favourite theme, the Vanity of Human Wishes; that the Prince         15
 of Abyssinia was without a mistress, and the Princess without a
 lover; and that the story set the hero and the heroine down
 exactly where it had taken them up. The style was the subject
 of much eager controversy. The Monthly Review and the
 Critical Review took different sides. Many readers pronounced        20
 the writer a pompous pedant, who would never use a word of
 two syllables where it was possible to use a word of six, and
 who could not make a waiting woman relate her adventures
 without balancing every noun with another noun, and every
 epithet with another epithet. Another party, not less zealous,       25
 cited with delight numerous passages in which weighty meaning
 was expressed with accuracy and illustrated with splendour.
 And both the censure and the praise were merited.

 33. About the plan of Rasselas little was said by the
 critics; and yet the faults of the plan might seem to invite         30
 severe criticism. Johnson has frequently blamed Shakspeare
 for neglecting the proprieties of time and place, and for ascribing
 to one age or nation the manners and opinions of another.
 Yet Shakspeare has not sinned in this way more grievously
 than Johnson. Rasselas and Imlac, Nekayah and Pekuah, are
 evidently meant to be Abyssinians of the eighteenth century:
 for the Europe which Imlac describes is the Europe of the
 eighteenth century; and the inmates of the Happy Valley
 talk familiarly of that law of gravitation which Newton               5
 discovered, and which was not fully received even at Cambridge
 till the eighteenth century. What a real company of Abyssinians
 would have been may be learned from Bruce's Travels.
 But Johnson, not content with turning filthy savages, ignorant
 of their letters, and gorged with raw steaks cut from living         10
 cows, into philosophers as eloquent and enlightened as himself
 or his friend Burke, and into ladies as highly accomplished as
 Mrs. Lennox or Mrs. Sheridan, transferred the whole domestic
 system of England to Egypt. Into a land of harems, a land of
 polygamy, a land where women are married without ever being          15
 seen, he introduced the flirtations and jealousies of our
 ballrooms. In a land where there is boundless liberty of divorce,
 wedlock is described as the indissoluble compact. "A youth
 and maiden meeting by chance, or brought together by artifice,
 exchange glances, reciprocate civilities, go home, and dream         20
 of each other. Such," says Rasselas, "is the common process
 of marriage." Such it may have been, and may still be, in
 London, but assuredly not at Cairo. A writer who was guilty
 of such improprieties had little right to blame the poet who
 made Hector quote Aristotle, and represented Julio Romano            25
 as flourishing in the days of the oracle of Delphi.

 34. By such exertions as have been described, Johnson
 supported himself till the year 1762. In that year a great
 change in his circumstances took place. He had from a child
 been an enemy of the reigning dynasty. His Jacobite prejudices       30
 had been exhibited with little disguise both in his works
 and in his conversation. Even in his massy and elaborate
 Dictionary, he had, with a strange want of taste and judgment,
 inserted bitter and contumelious reflections on the Whig party.
 The excise, which was a favourite resource of Whig financiers,
 he had designated as a hateful tax. He had railed against the
 commissioners of excise in language so coarse that they had
 seriously thought of prosecuting him. He had with difficulty
 been prevented from holding up the Lord Privy Seal by name            5
 as an example of the meaning of the word "renegade." A
 pension he had defined as pay given to a state hireling to betray
 his country; a pensioner as a slave of state hired by a stipend
 to obey a master. It seemed unlikely that the author of these
 definitions would himself be pensioned. But that was a time          10
 of wonders. George the Third had ascended the throne; and
 had, in the course of a few months, disgusted many of the old
 friends and conciliated many of the old enemies of his house.
 The city was becoming mutinous. Oxford was becoming loyal.
 Cavendishes and Bentincks were murmuring. Somersets and              15
 Wyndhams were hastening to kiss hands. The head of the
 treasury was now Lord Bute, who was a Tory, and could have
 no objection to Johnson's Toryism. Bute wished to be thought
 a patron of men of letters; and Johnson was one of the most
 eminent and one of the most needy men of letters in Europe.          20
 A pension of three hundred a year was graciously offered, and
 with very little hesitation accepted.

 35. This event produced a change in Johnson's whole way
 of life. For the first time since his boyhood he no longer felt
 the daily goad urging him to the daily toil. He was at liberty,      25
 after thirty years of anxiety and drudgery, to indulge his
 constitutional indolence, to lie in bed till two in the afternoon,
 and to sit up talking till four in the morning, without fearing
 either the printer's devil or the sheriff's officer.

 36. One laborious task indeed he had bound himself to                30
 perform. He had received large subscriptions for his promised
 edition of Shakspeare; he had lived on those subscriptions
 during some years; and he could not without disgrace omit
 to perform his part of the contract. His friends repeatedly
 exhorted him to make an effort; and he repeatedly resolved
 to do so. But, notwithstanding their exhortations and his
 resolutions, month followed month, year followed year, and
 nothing was done. He prayed fervently against his idleness;
 he determined, as often as he received the sacrament, that            5
 he would no longer doze away and trifle away his time; but
 the spell under which he lay resisted prayer and sacrament.
 His private notes at this time are made up of self-reproaches.
 "My indolence," he wrote on Easter eve in 1764, "has sunk
 into grosser sluggishness. A kind of strange oblivion has            10
 overspread me, so that I know not what has become of the last
 year." Easter 1765 came, and found him still in the same
 state. "My time," he wrote, "has been unprofitably spent,
 and seems as a dream that has left nothing behind. My
 memory grows confused, and I know not how the days pass              15
 over me." Happily for his honour, the charm which held him
 captive was at length broken by no gentle or friendly hand.
 He had been weak enough to pay serious attention to a story
 about a ghost which haunted a house in Cock Lane, and had
 actually gone himself with some of his friends, at one in the        20
 morning, to St. John's Church, Clerkenwell, in the hope of
 receiving a communication from the perturbed spirit. But the
 spirit, though adjured with all solemnity, remained obstinately
 silent; and it soon appeared that a naughty girl of eleven had
 been amusing herself by making fools of so many philosophers.        25
 Churchill, who, confident in his powers, drunk with popularity,
 and burning with party spirit, was looking for some man of
 established fame and Tory politics to insult, celebrated the
 Cock Lane Ghost in three cantos, nicknamed Johnson Pomposo,
 asked where the book was which had been so long                      30
 promised and so liberally paid for, and directly accused the
 great moralist of cheating. This terrible word proved effectual;
 and in October 1765 appeared, after a delay of nine
 years, the new edition of Shakspeare.

 37. This publication saved Johnson's character for honesty,
 but added nothing to the fame of his abilities and learning.
 The preface, though it contains some good passages, is not in
 his best manner. The most valuable notes are those in which
 he had an opportunity of showing how attentively he had               5
 during many years observed human life and human nature.
 The best specimen is the note on the character of Polonius.
 Nothing so good is to be found even in Wilhelm Meister's
 admirable examination of Hamlet. But here praise must end.
 It would be difficult to name a more slovenly, a more worthless      10
 edition of any great classic. The reader may turn over play
 after play without finding one happy conjectural emendation,
 or one ingenious and satisfactory explanation of a passage
 which had baffled preceding commentators. Johnson had, in
 his prospectus, told the world that he was peculiarly fitted for     15
 the task which he had undertaken, because he had, as a
 lexicographer, been under the necessity of taking a wider view of
 the English language than any of his predecessors. That his
 knowledge of our literature was extensive is indisputable. But,
 unfortunately, he had altogether neglected that very part of         20
 our literature with which it is especially desirable that an editor
 of Shakspeare should be conversant. It is dangerous to assert
 a negative. Yet little will be risked by the assertion, that in
 the two folio volumes of the English Dictionary there is not a
 single passage quoted from any dramatist of the Elizabethan          25
 age, except Shakspeare and Ben. Even from Ben the quotations
 are few. Johnson might easily, in a few months, have
 made himself well acquainted with every old play that was
 extant. But it never seems to have occurred to him that this
 was a necessary preparation for the work which he had undertaken.    30
 He would doubtless have admitted that it would be
 the height of absurdity in a man who was not familiar with
 the works of Æschylus and Euripides to publish an edition of
 Sophocles. Yet he ventured to publish an edition of Shakspeare,
 without having ever in his life, as far as can be discovered,
 read a single scene of Massinger, Ford, Decker, Webster,
 Marlow, Beaumont, or Fletcher. His detractors were noisy
 and scurrilous. Those who most loved and honoured him had
 little to say in praise of the manner in which he had discharged      5
 the duty of a commentator. He had, however, acquitted himself
 of a debt which had long lain heavy on his conscience;
 and he sank back into the repose from which the sting of satire
 had roused him. He long continued to live upon the fame
 which he had already won. He was honoured by the University          10
 of Oxford with a Doctor's degree, by the Royal Academy
 with a professorship, and by the King with an interview, in
 which his Majesty most graciously expressed a hope that so
 excellent a writer would not cease to write. In the interval,
 however, between 1765 and 1775 Johnson published only two            15
 or three political tracts, the longest of which he could have
 produced in forty-eight hours, if he had worked as he worked
 on the Life of Savage and on Rasselas.

 38. But, though his pen was now idle, his tongue was active.
 The influence exercised by his conversation, directly upon           20
 those with whom he lived, and indirectly on the whole literary
 world, was altogether without a parallel. His colloquial talents
 were indeed of the highest order. He had strong sense, quick
 discernment, wit, humour, immense knowledge of literature
 and of life, and an infinite store of curious anecdotes. As          25
 respected style, he spoke far better than he wrote. Every sentence
 which dropped from his lips was as correct in structure
 as the most nicely balanced period of the Rambler. But in
 his talk there were no pompous triads, and little more than a fair
 proportion of words in _osity_ and _ation_. All was simplicity,      30
 ease, and vigour. He uttered his short, weighty, and pointed
 sentences with a power of voice, and a justness and energy of
 emphasis, of which the effect was rather increased than diminished
 by the rollings of his huge form, and by the asthmatic
 gaspings and puffings in which the peals of his eloquence generally
 ended. Nor did the laziness which made him unwilling
 to sit down to his desk prevent him from giving instruction or
 entertainment orally. To discuss questions of taste, of learning,
 of casuistry, in language so exact and so forcible that it might      5
 have been printed without the alteration of a word, was to him
 no exertion, but a pleasure. He loved, as he said, to fold his
 legs and have his talk out. He was ready to bestow the overflowings
 of his full mind on anybody who would start a subject,
 on a fellow-passenger in a stage coach, or on the person who         10
 sate at the same table with him in an eating-house. But his
 conversation was nowhere so brilliant and striking as when he
 was surrounded by a few friends, whose abilities and knowledge
 enabled them, as he once expressed it, to send him back every
 ball that he threw. Some of these, in 1764, formed themselves        15
 into a club, which gradually became a formidable power in the
 commonwealth of letters. The verdicts pronounced by this
 conclave on new books were speedily known over all London,
 and were sufficient to sell off a whole edition in a day, or to
 condemn the sheets to the service of the trunk-maker and the         20
 pastry-cook. Nor shall we think this strange when we consider
 what great and various talents and acquirements met in the
 little fraternity. Goldsmith was the representative of poetry
 and light literature, Reynolds of the arts, Burke of political
 eloquence and political philosophy. There, too, were Gibbon,         25
 the greatest historian, and Jones, the greatest linguist, of the
 age. Garrick brought to the meetings his inexhaustible pleasantry,
 his incomparable mimicry, and his consummate knowledge
 of stage effect. Among the most constant attendants
 were two high-born and high-bred gentlemen, closely bound            30
 together by friendship, but of widely different characters and
 habits; Bennet Langton, distinguished by his skill in Greek
 literature, by the orthodoxy of his opinions, and by the sanctity
 of his life; and Topham Beauclerk, renowned for his amours,
 his knowledge of the gay world, his fastidious taste, and his
 sarcastic wit. To predominate over such a society was not
 easy. Yet even over such a society Johnson predominated.
 Burke might indeed have disputed the supremacy to which
 others were under the necessity of submitting. But Burke,             5
 though not generally a very patient listener, was content to
 take the second part when Johnson was present; and the
 club itself, consisting of so many eminent men, is to this
 day popularly designated as Johnson's Club.

 39. Among the members of this celebrated body was one                10
 to whom it has owed the greater part of its celebrity, yet who
 was regarded with little respect by his brethren, and had not
 without difficulty obtained a seat among them. This was
 James Boswell, a young Scotch lawyer, heir to an honourable
 name and a fair estate. That he was a coxcomb and a bore,            15
 weak, vain, pushing, curious, garrulous, was obvious to all who
 were acquainted with him. That he could not reason, that
 he had no wit, no humour, no eloquence, is apparent from
 his writings. And yet his writings are read beyond the
 Mississippi, and under the Southern Cross, and are likely to be      20
 read as long as the English exists, either as a living or as a
 dead language. Nature had made him a slave and an idolater.
 His mind resembled those creepers which the botanists call
 parasites, and which can subsist only by clinging round the
 stems and imbibing the juices of stronger plants. He must            25
 have fastened himself on somebody. He might have fastened
 himself on Wilkes, and have become the fiercest patriot in the
 Bill of Rights Society. He might have fastened himself on
 Whitfield, and have become the loudest field preacher among
 the Calvinistic Methodists. In a happy hour he fastened himself      30
 on Johnson. The pair might seem ill matched. For
 Johnson had early been prejudiced against Boswell's country.
 To a man of Johnson's strong understanding and irritable
 temper, the silly egotism and adulation of Boswell must have
 been as teasing as the constant buzz of a fly. Johnson hated
 to be questioned; and Boswell was eternally catechising him
 on all kinds of subjects, and sometimes propounded such
 questions as "What would you do, sir, if you were locked up
 in a tower with a baby?" Johnson was a water drinker; and             5
 Boswell was a wine-bibber, and indeed little better than a
 habitual sot. It was impossible that there should be perfect
 harmony between two such companions. Indeed, the great
 man was sometimes provoked into fits of passion in which he
 said things which the small man, during a few hours, seriously       10
 resented. Every quarrel, however, was soon made up. During
 twenty years the disciple continued to worship the master:
 the master continued to scold the disciple, to sneer at him, and
 to love him. The two friends ordinarily resided at a great
 distance from each other. Boswell practised in the Parliament        15
 House of Edinburgh, and could pay only occasional
 visits to London. During those visits his chief business was
 to watch Johnson, to discover all Johnson's habits, to turn the
 conversation to subjects about which Johnson was likely to
 say something remarkable, and to fill quarto note books with         20
 minutes of what Johnson had said. In this way were gathered
 the materials out of which was afterwards constructed the most
 interesting biographical work in the world.

 40. Soon after the club began to exist, Johnson formed a
 connection less important indeed to his fame, but much more          25
 important to his happiness, than his connection with Boswell.
 Henry Thrale, one of the most opulent brewers in the kingdom,
 a man of sound and cultivated understanding, rigid principles,
 and liberal spirit, was married to one of those clever,
 kind-hearted, engaging, vain, pert young women, who are              30
 perpetually doing or saying what is not exactly right, but who, do
 or say what they may, are always agreeable. In 1765 the
 Thrales became acquainted with Johnson, and the acquaintance
 ripened fast into friendship. They were astonished and
 delighted by the brilliancy of his conversation. They were
 flattered by finding that a man so widely celebrated, preferred
 their house to any other in London. Even the peculiarities
 which seemed to unfit him for civilised society, his gesticulations,
 his rollings, his puffings, his mutterings, the strange way           5
 in which he put on his clothes, the ravenous eagerness with
 which he devoured his dinner, his fits of melancholy, his fits of
 anger, his frequent rudeness, his occasional ferocity, increased
 the interest which his new associates took in him. For these
 things were the cruel marks left behind by a life which had          10
 been one long conflict with disease and with adversity. In a
 vulgar hack writer such oddities would have excited only disgust.
 But in a man of genius, learning, and virtue their effect
 was to add pity to admiration and esteem. Johnson soon had
 an apartment at the brewery in Southwark, and a still more           15
 pleasant apartment at the villa of his friends on Streatham
 Common. A large part of every year he passed in those
 abodes, abodes which must have seemed magnificent and luxurious
 indeed, when compared with the dens in which he had
 generally been lodged. But his chief pleasures were derived          20
 from what the astronomer of his Abyssinian tale called "the
 endearing elegance of female friendship." Mrs. Thrale rallied
 him, soothed him, coaxed him, and, if she sometimes provoked
 him by her flippancy, made ample amends by listening to his
 reproofs with angelic sweetness of temper. When he was               25
 diseased in body and in mind, she was the most tender of
 nurses. No comfort that wealth could purchase, no contrivance
 that womanly ingenuity, set to work by womanly compassion,
 could devise, was wanting to his sick-room. He
 requited her kindness by an affection pure as the affection of       30
 a father, yet delicately tinged with a gallantry which, though
 awkward, must have been more flattering than the attentions
 of a crowd of the fools who gloried in the names, now obsolete,
 of Buck and Maccaroni. It should seem that a full half of
 Johnson's life, during about sixteen years, was passed under
 the roof of the Thrales. He accompanied the family sometimes
 to Bath, and sometimes to Brighton, once to Wales, and once
 to Paris. But he had at the same time a house in one of the
 narrow and gloomy courts on the north of Fleet Street. In             5
 the garrets was his library, a large and miscellaneous collection
 of books, falling to pieces and begrimed with dust. On
 a lower floor he sometimes, but very rarely, regaled a friend
 with a plain dinner, a veal pie, or a leg of lamb and spinage,
 and a rice pudding. Nor was the dwelling uninhabited during          10
 his long absences. It was the home of the most extraordinary
 assemblage of inmates that ever was brought together. At
 the head of the establishment Johnson had placed an old
 lady named Williams, whose chief recommendations were her
 blindness and her poverty. But, in spite of her murmurs and          15
 reproaches, he gave an asylum to another lady who was as poor
 as herself, Mrs. Desmoulins, whose family he had known many
 years before in Staffordshire. Room was found for the daughter
 of Mrs. Desmoulins, and for another destitute damsel, who was
 generally addressed as Miss Carmichael, but whom her generous        20
 host called Polly. An old quack doctor named Levett,
 who bled and dosed coal-heavers and hackney coachmen, and
 received for fees crusts of bread, bits of bacon, glasses of gin,
 and sometimes a little copper, completed this strange menagerie.
 All these poor creatures were at constant war with each              25
 other, and with Johnson's negro servant Frank. Sometimes,
 indeed, they transferred their hostilities from the servant to
 the master, complained that a better table was not kept for
 them, and railed or maundered till their benefactor was glad to
 make his escape to Streatham, or to the Mitre Tavern. And            30
 yet he, who was generally the haughtiest and most irritable
 of mankind, who was but too prompt to resent anything which
 looked like a slight on the part of a purse-proud bookseller,
 or of a noble and powerful patron, bore patiently from
 mendicants, who, but for his bounty, must have gone to the
 workhouse, insults more provoking than those for which he had
 knocked down Osborne and bidden defiance to Chesterfield.
 Year after year Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Desmoulins, Polly, and
 Levett continued to torment him and to live upon him.                 5

 41. The course of life which has been described was
 interrupted in Johnson's sixty-fourth year by an important
 event. He had early read an account of the Hebrides, and
 had been much interested by learning that there was so near
 him a land peopled by a race which was still as rude and             10
 simple as in the middle ages. A wish to become intimately
 acquainted with a state of society so utterly unlike all that he
 had ever seen frequently crossed his mind. But it is not
 probable that his curiosity would have overcome his habitual
 sluggishness, and his love of the smoke, the mud, and the            15
 cries of London, had not Boswell importuned him to attempt
 the adventure, and offered to be his squire. At length, in
 August 1773, Johnson crossed the Highland line, and plunged
 courageously into what was then considered, by most Englishmen,
 as a dreary and perilous wilderness. After wandering                 20
 about two months through the Celtic region, sometimes in
 rude boats which did not protect him from the rain, and
 sometimes on small shaggy ponies which could hardly bear
 his weight, he returned to his old haunts with a mind full of
 new images and new theories. During the following year he            25
 employed himself in recording his adventures. About the
 beginning of 1775, his Journey to the Hebrides was published,
 and was, during some weeks, the chief subject of conversation
 in all circles in which any attention was paid to literature.
 The book is still read with pleasure. The narrative is               30
 entertaining; the speculations, whether sound or unsound, are
 always ingenious; and the style, though too stiff and pompous,
 is somewhat easier and more graceful than that of his
 early writings. His prejudice against the Scotch had at
 length become little more than matter of jest; and whatever
 remained of the old feeling had been effectually removed by
 the kind and respectful hospitality with which he had been
 received in every part of Scotland. It was, of course, not to
 be expected that an Oxonian Tory should praise the Presbyterian       5
 polity and ritual, or that an eye accustomed to the
 hedgerows and parks of England should not be struck by the
 bareness of Berwickshire and East Lothian. But even in
 censure Johnson's tone is not unfriendly. The most enlightened
 Scotchmen, with Lord Mansfield at their head, were                   10
 well pleased. But some foolish and ignorant Scotchmen were
 moved to anger by a little unpalatable truth which was
 mingled with much eulogy, and assailed him whom they chose
 to consider as the enemy of their country, with libels much
 more dishonourable to their country than anything that he            15
 had ever said or written. They published paragraphs in the
 newspapers, articles in the magazines, sixpenny pamphlets,
 five-shilling books. One scribbler abused Johnson for being
 blear-eyed; another for being a pensioner; a third informed
 the world that one of the Doctor's uncles had been convicted         20
 of felony in Scotland, and had found that there was in that
 country one tree capable of supporting the weight of an
 Englishman. Macpherson, whose Fingal had been proved
 in the Journey to be an impudent forgery, threatened to take
 vengeance with a cane. The only effect of this threat was            25
 that Johnson reiterated the charge of forgery in the most
 contemptuous terms, and walked about, during some time,
 with a cudgel, which, if the impostor had not been too wise
 to encounter it, would assuredly have descended upon him,
 to borrow the sublime language of his own epic poem, "like           30
 a hammer on the red son of the furnace."

 42. Of other assailants Johnson took no notice whatever.
 He had early resolved never to be drawn into controversy;
 and he adhered to his resolution with a steadfastness which
 is the more extraordinary, because he was, both intellectually
 and morally, of the stuff of which controversialists are made.
 In conversation, he was a singularly eager, acute, and pertinacious
 disputant. When at a loss for good reasons, he
 had recourse to sophistry; and, when heated by altercation,           5
 he made unsparing use of sarcasm and invective. But, when
 he took his pen in his hand, his whole character seemed
 to be changed. A hundred bad writers misrepresented him
 and reviled him; but not one of the hundred could boast of
 having been thought by him worthy of a refutation, or even           10
 of a retort. The Kenricks, Campbells, MacNicols, and Hendersons
 did their best to annoy him, in the hope that he would
 give them importance by answering them. But the reader will
 in vain search his works for any allusion to Kenrick or Campbell,
 to MacNicol or Henderson. One Scotchman, bent on                     15
 vindicating the fame of Scotch learning, defied him to the
 combat in a detestable Latin hexameter.

     "Maxime, si tu vis, cupio contendere tecum."

 But Johnson took no notice of the challenge. He had learned,
 both from his own observation and from literary history,             20
 in which he was deeply read, that the place of books in
 the public estimation is fixed, not by what is written about
 them, but by what is written in them; and that an author
 whose works are likely to live is very unwise if he stoops to
 wrangle with detractors whose works are certain to die. He           25
 always maintained that fame was a shuttlecock which could
 be kept up only by being beaten back, as well as beaten forward,
 and which would soon fall if there were only one battledore.
 No saying was oftener in his mouth than that fine
 apophthegm of Bentley, that no man was ever written down             30
 but by himself.

 43. Unhappily, a few months after the appearance of the
 Journey to the Hebrides, Johnson did what none of his
 envious assailants could have done, and to a certain extent
 succeeded in writing himself down. The disputes between
 England and her American colonies had reached a point at
 which no amicable adjustment was possible. Civil war was
 evidently impending; and the ministers seem to have thought           5
 that the eloquence of Johnson might with advantage be
 employed to inflame the nation against the opposition here,
 and against the rebels beyond the Atlantic. He had already
 written two or three tracts in defence of the foreign and
 domestic policy of the government; and those tracts, though          10
 hardly worthy of him, were much superior to the crowd of
 pamphlets which lay on the counters of Almon and Stockdale.
 But his Taxation no Tyranny was a pitiable failure. The very
 title was a silly phrase, which can have been recommended
 to his choice by nothing but a jingling alliteration which he        15
 ought to have despised. The arguments were such as boys
 use in debating societies. The pleasantry was as awkward as
 the gambols of a hippopotamus. Even Boswell was forced to
 own that, in this unfortunate piece, he could detect no trace
 of his master's powers. The general opinion was that the             20
 strong faculties which had produced the Dictionary and the
 Rambler were beginning to feel the effect of time and of
 disease, and that the old man would best consult his credit
 by writing no more.

 44. But this was a great mistake. Johnson had failed, not            25
 because his mind was less vigorous than when he wrote Rasselas
 in the evenings of a week, but because he had foolishly
 chosen, or suffered others to choose for him, a subject such as
 he would at no time have been competent to treat. He was
 in no sense a statesman. He never willingly read or thought          30
 or talked about affairs of state. He loved biography, literary
 history, the history of manners; but political history was
 positively distasteful to him. The question at issue between
 the colonies and the mother country was a question about
 which he had really nothing to say. He failed, therefore, as
 the greatest men must fail when they attempt to do that for
 which they are unfit; as Burke would have failed if Burke
 had tried to write comedies like those of Sheridan; as Reynolds
 would have failed if Reynolds had tried to paint landscapes           5
 like those of Wilson. Happily, Johnson soon had an
 opportunity of proving most signally that his failure was not
 to be ascribed to intellectual decay.

 45. On Easter eve 1777, some persons, deputed by a meeting
 which consisted of forty of the first booksellers in London,         10
 called upon him. Though he had some scruples about doing
 business at that season, he received his visitors with much
 civility. They came to inform him that a new edition of the English
 poets, from Cowley downwards, was in contemplation, and to ask
 him to furnish short biographical prefaces. He readily undertook     15
 the task, a task for which he was pre-eminently qualified.
 His knowledge of the literary history of England since the
 Restoration was unrivalled. That knowledge he had derived
 partly from books, and partly from sources which had long been
 closed; from old Grub Street traditions; from the talk of            20
 forgotten poetasters and pamphleteers who had long been lying
 in parish vaults; from the recollections of such men as Gilbert
 Walmesley, who had conversed with the wits of Button's; Cibber,
 who had mutilated the plays of two generations of dramatists;
 Orrery, who had been admitted to the society of Swift; and           25
 Savage, who had rendered services of no very honourable kind
 to Pope. The biographer therefore sate down to his task with
 a mind full of matter. He had at first intended to give only
 a paragraph to every minor poet, and only four or five pages
 to the greatest name. But the flood of anecdote and criticism        30
 overflowed the narrow channel. The work, which was originally
 meant to consist only of a few sheets, swelled into ten
 volumes, small volumes, it is true, and not closely printed.
 The first four appeared in 1779, the remaining six in 1781.

 46. The Lives of the Poets are, on the whole, the best of
 Johnson's works. The narratives are as entertaining as any
 novel. The remarks on life and on human nature are eminently
 shrewd and profound. The criticisms are often excellent, and,
 even when grossly and provokingly unjust, well deserve to be          5
 studied. For, however erroneous they may be, they are never
 silly. They are the judgments of a mind trammelled by prejudice
 and deficient in sensibility, but vigorous and acute.
 They therefore generally contain a portion of valuable truth
 which deserves to be separated from the alloy; and, at the           10
 very worst, they mean something, a praise to which much of
 what is called criticism in our time has no pretensions.

 47. Savage's Life Johnson reprinted nearly as it had
 appeared in 1744. Whoever, after reading that life, will
 turn to the other lives will be struck by the difference of          15
 style. Since Johnson had been at ease in his circumstances
 he had written little and had talked much. When, therefore,
 he, after the lapse of years, resumed his pen, the mannerism
 which he had contracted while he was in the constant habit
 of elaborate composition was less perceptible than formerly;         20
 and his diction frequently had a colloquial ease which it had
 formerly wanted. The improvement may be discerned by a
 skilful critic in the Journey to the Hebrides, and in the Lives
 of the Poets is so obvious that it cannot escape the notice of
 the most careless reader.                                            25

 48. Among the lives the best are perhaps those of Cowley,
 Dryden, and Pope. The very worst is, beyond all doubt,
 that of Gray.

 49. This great work at once became popular. There was,
 indeed, much just and much unjust censure: but even those            30
 who were loudest in blame were attracted by the book in
 spite of themselves. Malone computed the gains of the publishers
 at five or six thousand pounds. But the writer was
 very poorly remunerated. Intending at first to write very
 short prefaces, he had stipulated for only two hundred guineas.
 The booksellers, when they saw how far his performance had
 surpassed his promise, added only another hundred. Indeed,
 Johnson, though he did not despise, or affect to despise, money,
 and though his strong sense and long experience ought to              5
 have qualified him to protect his own interests, seems to have
 been singularly unskilful and unlucky in his literary bargains.
 He was generally reputed the first English writer of his time.
 Yet several writers of his time sold their copyrights for sums
 such as he never ventured to ask. To give a single instance,         10
 Robertson received four thousand five hundred pounds for
 the History of Charles V.; and it is no disrespect to the
 memory of Robertson to say that the History of Charles V.
 is both a less valuable and a less amusing book than the Lives
 of the Poets.                                                        15

 50. Johnson was now in his seventy-second year. The
 infirmities of age were coming fast upon him. That inevitable
 event of which he never thought without horror was brought
 near to him; and his whole life was darkened by the shadow
 of death. He had often to pay the cruel price of longevity.          20
 Every year he lost what could never be replaced. The strange
 dependents to whom he had given shelter, and to whom,
 in spite of their faults, he was strongly attached by habit,
 dropped off one by one; and, in the silence of his home, he
 regretted even the noise of their scolding matches. The kind         25
 and generous Thrale was no more; and it would have been
 well if his wife had been laid beside him. But she survived
 to be the laughing-stock of those who had envied her, and
 to draw from the eyes of the old man who had loved her
 beyond anything in the world tears far more bitter than he           30
 would have shed over her grave. With some estimable and
 many agreeable qualities, she was not made to be independent.
 The control of a mind more steadfast than her own
 was necessary to her respectability. While she was restrained
 by her husband, a man of sense and firmness, indulgent to
 her taste in trifles, but always the undisputed master of his
 house, her worst offences had been impertinent jokes, white
 lies, and short fits of pettishness ending in sunny good humour.
 But he was gone; and she was left an opulent widow of forty,          5
 with strong sensibility, volatile fancy, and slender judgment.
 She soon fell in love with a music-master from Brescia, in
 whom nobody but herself could discover anything to admire.
 Her pride, and perhaps some better feelings, struggled hard
 against this degrading passion. But the struggle irritated her       10
 nerves, soured her temper, and at length endangered her
 health. Conscious that her choice was one which Johnson
 could not approve, she became desirous to escape from his
 inspection. Her manner towards him changed. She was
 sometimes cold and sometimes petulant. She did not conceal           15
 her joy when he left Streatham; she never pressed him
 to return; and, if he came unbidden, she received him in a
 manner which convinced him he was no longer a welcome
 guest. He took the very intelligible hints which she gave.
 He read, for the last time, a chapter of the Greek Testament in      20
 the library which had been formed by himself. In a solemn
 and tender prayer he commended the house and its inmates
 to the Divine protection, and, with emotions which choked
 his voice and convulsed his powerful frame, left for ever that
 beloved home for the gloomy and desolate house behind Fleet          25
 Street, where the few and evil days which still remained to
 him were to run out. Here, in June 1783, he had a paralytic
 stroke, from which, however, he recovered, and which
 does not appear to have at all impaired his intellectual faculties.
 But other maladies came thick upon him. His asthma                   30
 tormented him day and night. Dropsical symptoms made
 their appearance. While sinking under a complication of
 diseases, he heard that the woman whose friendship had been
 the chief happiness of sixteen years of his life had married an
 Italian fiddler; that all London was crying shame upon her;
 and that the newspapers and magazines were filled with
 allusions to the Ephesian matron, and the two pictures in
 Hamlet. He vehemently said that he would try to forget her
 existence. He never uttered her name. Every memorial                  5
 of her which met his eye he flung into the fire. She meanwhile
 fled from the laughter and hisses of her countrymen
 and countrywomen to a land where she was unknown, hastened
 across Mount Cenis, and learned, while passing a merry
 Christmas of concerts and lemonade parties at Milan, that            10
 the great man with whose name hers is inseparably associated
 had ceased to exist.

 51. He had, in spite of much mental and much bodily
 affliction, clung vehemently to life. The feeling described
 in that fine but gloomy paper which closes the series of his         15
 Idlers seemed to grow stronger in him as his last hour drew
 near. He fancied that he should be able to draw his breath
 more easily in a southern climate, and would probably have
 set out for Rome and Naples, but for his fear of the expense
 of the journey. That expense, indeed, he had the means of            20
 defraying; for he had laid up about two thousand pounds,
 the fruit of labours which had made the fortune of several
 publishers. But he was unwilling to break in upon this hoard,
 and he seems to have wished even to keep its existence a
 secret. Some of his friends hoped that the government might          25
 be induced to increase his pension to six hundred pounds a
 year, but this hope was disappointed, and he resolved to stand
 one English winter more. That winter was his last. His
 legs grew weaker; his breath grew shorter; the fatal water
 gathered fast, in spite of incisions which he, courageous against    30
 pain, but timid against death, urged his surgeons to make
 deeper and deeper. Though the tender care which had mitigated
 his sufferings during months of sickness at Streatham
 was withdrawn, he was not left desolate. The ablest physicians
 and surgeons attended him, and refused to accept fees from
 him. Burke parted from him with deep emotion. Windham
 sate much in the sick-room, arranged the pillows, and sent his
 own servant to watch at night by the bed. Frances Burney,
 whom the old man had cherished with fatherly kindness, stood          5
 weeping at the door; while Langton, whose piety eminently
 qualified him to be an adviser and comforter at such a time,
 received the last pressure of his friend's hand within. When
 at length the moment, dreaded through so many years, came
 close, the dark cloud passed away from Johnson's mind. His           10
 temper became unusually patient and gentle; he ceased to
 think with terror of death, and of that which lies beyond
 death; and he spoke much of the mercy of God, and of the
 propitiation of Christ. In this serene frame of mind he died
 on the 13th of December 1784. He was laid, a week later,             15
 in Westminster Abbey, among the eminent men of whom he
 had been the historian,--Cowley and Denham, Dryden and
 Congreve, Gay, Prior, and Addison.

 52. Since his death the popularity of his works--the Lives
 of the Poets, and, perhaps, the Vanity of Human Wishes,              20
 excepted--has greatly diminished. His Dictionary has been
 altered by editors till it can scarcely be called his. An allusion
 to his Rambler or his Idler is not readily apprehended in
 literary circles. The fame even of Rasselas has grown somewhat
 dim. But, though the celebrity of the writings may have              25
 declined, the celebrity of the writer, strange to say, is as great
 as ever. Boswell's book has done for him more than the best
 of his own books could do. The memory of other authors is
 kept alive by their works. But the memory of Johnson keeps
 many of his works alive. The old philosopher is still among          30
 us in the brown coat with the metal buttons and the shirt which
 ought to be at wash, blinking, puffing, rolling his head, drumming
 with his fingers, tearing his meat like a tiger, and swallowing
 his tea in oceans. No human being who has been more
 than seventy years in the grave is so well known to us. And
 it is but just to say that our intimate acquaintance with what
 he would himself have called the anfractuosities of his intellect
 and of his temper serves only to strengthen our conviction that
 he was both a great and a good man.                                   5


(_Edinburgh Review, September, 1831_)

 1. The Life of Johnson is assuredly a great, a very great
 work. Homer is not more decidedly the first of heroic poets,
 Shakspeare is not more decidedly the first of dramatists,
 Demosthenes is not more decidedly the first of orators, than
 Boswell is the first of biographers. He has no second. He has         5
 distanced all his competitors so decidedly that it is not worth
 while to place them. Eclipse is first, and the rest nowhere.

 2. We are not sure that there is in the whole history of the
 human intellect so strange a phænomenon as this book. Many
 of the greatest men that ever lived have written biography.          10
 Boswell was one of the smallest men that ever lived, and he has
 beaten them all. He was, if we are to give any credit to his
 own account or to the united testimony of all who knew him, a
 man of the meanest and feeblest intellect. Johnson described
 him as a fellow who had missed his only chance of immortality        15
 by not having been alive when the Dunciad was written.
 Beauclerk used his name as a proverbial expression for a bore.
 He was the laughing-stock of the whole of that brilliant society
 which has owed to him the greater part of its fame. He was
 always laying himself at the feet of some eminent man, and           20
 begging to be spit upon and trampled upon. He was always
 earning some ridiculous nickname, and then "binding it as a
 crown unto him," not merely in metaphor, but literally. He
 exhibited himself, at the Shakspeare Jubilee, to all the crowd
 which filled Stratford-on-Avon, with a placard round his hat
 bearing the inscription of Corsica Boswell. In his Tour he
 proclaimed to all the world that at Edinburgh he was known            5
 by the appellation of Paoli Boswell. Servile and impertinent,
 shallow and pedantic, a bigot and a sot, bloated with family
 pride, and eternally blustering about the dignity of a born
 gentleman, yet stooping to be a tale-bearer, an eavesdropper,
 a common butt in the taverns of London, so curious to know           10
 every body who was talked about, that, Tory and high Churchman
 as he was, he manoeuvred, we have been told, for an introduction
 to Tom Paine, so vain of the most childish distinctions,
 that when he had been to court, he drove to the office where
 his book was printing without changing his clothes, and summoned     15
 all the printer's devils to admire his new ruffles and
 sword; such was this man, and such he was content and proud
 to be. Every thing which another man would have hidden,
 every thing the publication of which would have made another
 man hang himself, was matter of gay and clamorous exultation         20
 to his weak and diseased mind. What silly things he said,
 what bitter retorts he provoked, how at one place he was
 troubled with evil presentiments which came to nothing, how
 at another place, on waking from a drunken doze, he read the
 prayerbook and took a hair of the dog that had bitten him,           25
 how he went to see men hanged and came away maudlin, how
 he added five hundred pounds to the fortune of one of his babies
 because she was not scared at Johnson's ugly face, how he was
 frightened out of his wits at sea, and how the sailors quieted
 him as they would have quieted a child, how tipsy he was at          30
 Lady Cork's one evening and how much his merriment annoyed
 the ladies, how impertinent he was to the Duchess of Argyle
 and with what stately contempt she put down his impertinence,
 how Colonel Macleod sneered to his face at his impudent
 obtrusiveness, how his father and the very wife of his bosom
 laughed and fretted at his fooleries; all these things he proclaimed
 to all the world, as if they had been subjects for pride
 and ostentatious rejoicing. All the caprices of his temper, all
 the illusions of his vanity, all his hypochondriac whimsies, all      5
 his castles in the air, he displayed with a cool self-complacency,
 a perfect unconsciousness that he was making a fool of himself,
 to which it is impossible to find a parallel in the whole history
 of mankind. He has used many people ill; but assuredly
 he has used nobody so ill as himself.                                10

 3. That such a man should have written one of the best
 books in the world is strange enough. But this is not all.
 Many persons who have conducted themselves foolishly in
 active life, and whose conversation has indicated no superior
 powers of mind, have left us valuable works. Goldsmith was           15
 very justly described by one of his contemporaries as an
 inspired idiot, and by another as a being

     "Who wrote like an angel, and talked like poor Poll."

 La Fontaine was in society a mere simpleton. His blunders
 would not come in amiss among the stories of Hierocles. But          20
 these men attained literary eminence in spite of their weaknesses.
 Boswell attained it by reason of his weaknesses. If
 he had not been a great fool, he would never have been a
 great writer. Without all the qualities which made him the
 jest and the torment of those among whom he lived, without           25
 the officiousness, the inquisitiveness, the effrontery, the
 toad-eating, the insensibility to all reproof, he never could have
 produced so excellent a book. He was a slave, proud of his
 servitude, a Paul Pry, convinced that his own curiosity and
 garrulity were virtues, an unsafe companion who never scrupled       30
 to repay the most liberal hospitality by the basest violation of
 confidence, a man without delicacy, without shame, without
 sense enough to know when he was hurting the feelings of
 others or when he was exposing himself to derision; and
 because he was all this, he has, in an important department
 of literature, immeasurably surpassed such writers as Tacitus,
 Clarendon, Alfieri, and his own idol Johnson.

 4. Of the talents which ordinarily raise men to eminence              5
 as writers, Boswell had absolutely none. There is not in all
 his books a single remark of his own on literature, politics,
 religion, or society, which is not either commonplace or absurd.
 His dissertations on hereditary gentility, on the slave-trade,
 and on the entailing of landed estates, may serve as examples.       10
 To say that these passages are sophistical would be to pay
 them an extravagant compliment. They have no pretence to
 argument, or even to meaning. He has reported innumerable
 observations made by himself in the course of conversation.
 Of those observations we do not remember one which is above          15
 the intellectual capacity of a boy of fifteen. He has printed
 many of his own letters, and in these letters he is always ranting
 or twaddling. Logic, eloquence, wit, taste, all those things
 which are generally considered as making a book valuable, were
 utterly wanting to him. He had, indeed, a quick observation          20
 and a retentive memory. These qualities, if he had been a
 man of sense and virtue, would scarcely of themselves have sufficed
 to make him conspicuous; but, because he was a dunce,
 a parasite, and a coxcomb, they have made him immortal.

 5. Those parts of his book which, considered abstractedly,           25
 are most utterly worthless, are delightful when we read them
 as illustrations of the character of the writer. Bad in themselves,
 they are good dramatically, like the nonsense of Justice
 Shallow, the clipped English of Dr. Caius, or the misplaced
 consonants of Fluellen. Of all confessors, Boswell is the most       30
 candid. Other men who have pretended to lay open their
 own hearts, Rousseau, for example, and Lord Byron, have
 evidently written with a constant view to effect, and are to be
 then most distrusted when they seem to be most sincere.
 There is scarcely any man who would not rather accuse himself
 of great crimes and of dark and tempestuous passions,
 than proclaim all his little vanities and wild fancies. It would
 be easier to find a person who would avow actions like those
 of Cæsar Borgia or Danton, than one who would publish a               5
 daydream like those of Alnaschar and Malvolio. Those weaknesses
 which most men keep covered up in the most secret
 places of the mind, not to be disclosed to the eye of friendship
 or of love, were precisely the weaknesses which Boswell
 paraded before all the world. He was perfectly frank, because        10
 the weakness of his understanding and the tumult of his spirits
 prevented him from knowing when he made himself ridiculous.
 His book resembles nothing so much as the conversation of
 the inmates of the Palace of Truth.

 6. His fame is great; and it will, we have no doubt, be              15
 lasting; but it is fame of a peculiar kind, and indeed
 marvellously resembles infamy. We remember no other case in
 which the world has made so great a distinction between a
 book and its author. In general, the book and the author
 are considered as one. To admire the book is to admire the           20
 author. The case of Boswell is an exception, we think the
 only exception, to this rule. His work is universally allowed
 to be interesting, instructive, eminently original: yet it has
 brought him nothing but contempt. All the world reads it:
 all the world delights in it: yet we do not remember ever to         25
 have read or ever to have heard any expression of respect and
 admiration for the man to whom we owe so much instruction
 and amusement. While edition after edition of his book was
 coming forth, his son, as Mr. Croker tells us, was ashamed of
 it, and hated to hear it mentioned. This feeling was natural         30
 and reasonable. Sir Alexander saw that, in proportion to the
 celebrity of the work, was the degradation of the author. The
 very editors of this unfortunate gentleman's books have forgotten
 their allegiance, and, like those Puritan casuists who
 took arms by the authority of the king against his person,
 have attacked the writer while doing homage to the writings.
 Mr. Croker, for example, has published two thousand five
 hundred notes on the life of Johnson, and yet scarcely ever
 mentions the biographer whose performance he has taken such           5
 pains to illustrate without some expression of contempt.

 7. An ill-natured man Boswell certainly was not. Yet the
 malignity of the most malignant satirist could scarcely cut
 deeper than his thoughtless loquacity. Having himself no
 sensibility to derision and contempt, he took it for granted         10
 that all others were equally callous. He was not ashamed to
 exhibit himself to the whole world as a common spy, a common
 tattler, a humble companion without the excuse of poverty,
 and to tell a hundred stories of his own pertness and
 folly, and of the insults which his pertness and folly brought       15
 upon him. It was natural that he should show little discretion
 in cases in which the feelings or the honour of others
 might be concerned. No man, surely, ever published such
 stories respecting persons whom he professed to love and
 revere. He would infallibly have made his hero as contemptible       20
 as he has made himself, had not his hero really
 possessed some moral and intellectual qualities of a very high
 order. The best proof that Johnson was really an extraordinary
 man is that his character, instead of being degraded, has,
 on the whole, been decidedly raised by a work in which all           25
 his vices and weaknesses are exposed more unsparingly than
 they ever were exposed by Churchill or by Kenrick.

 8. Johnson grown old, Johnson in the fulness of his fame
 and in the enjoyment of a competent fortune, is better known
 to us than any other man in history. Every thing about him, his      30
 coat, his wig, his figure, his face, his scrofula, his St. Vitus's
 dance, his rolling walk, his blinking eye, the outward signs
 which too clearly marked his approbation of his dinner, his
 insatiable appetite for fish-sauce and veal-pie with plums, his
 inextinguishable thirst for tea, his trick of touching the posts
 as he walked, his mysterious practice of treasuring up scraps of
 orange-peel, his morning slumbers, his midnight disputations,
 his contortions, his mutterings, his gruntings, his puffings,
 his vigorous, acute, and ready eloquence, his sarcastic wit, his      5
 vehemence, his insolence, his fits of tempestuous rage, his
 queer inmates, old Mr. Levett and blind Mrs. Williams, the cat
 Hodge and the negro Frank, all are as familiar to us as the
 objects by which we have been surrounded from childhood.
 But we have no minute information respecting those years of          10
 Johnson's life during which his character and his manners
 became immutably fixed. We know him, not as he was known
 to the men of his own generation, but as he was known to men
 whose father he might have been. That celebrated club of
 which he was the most distinguished member contained few             15
 persons who could remember a time when his fame was not
 fully established and his habits completely formed. He had
 made himself a name in literature while Reynolds and the
 Wartons were still boys. He was about twenty years older
 than Burke, Goldsmith, and Gerard Hamilton, about thirty             20
 years older than Gibbon, Beauclerk, and Langton, and about
 forty years older than Lord Stowell, Sir William Jones, and
 Windham. Boswell and Mrs. Thrale, the two writers from
 whom we derive most of our knowledge respecting him, never
 saw him till long after he was fifty years old, till most of his     25
 great works had become classical, and till the pension bestowed
 on him by the Crown had placed him above poverty. Of those
 eminent men who were his most intimate associates towards the
 close of his life, the only one, as far as we remember, who knew
 him during the first ten or twelve years of his residence in the     30
 capital, was David Garrick; and it does not appear that, during
 those years, David Garrick saw much of his fellow-townsman.

 9. Johnson came up to London precisely at the time when
 the condition of a man of letters was most miserable and
 degraded. It was a dark night between two sunny days. The
 age of patronage had passed away. The age of general curiosity
 and intelligence had not arrived. The number of readers
 is at present so great that a popular author may subsist in
 comfort and opulence on the profits of his works. In the              5
 reigns of William the Third, of Anne, and of George the First,
 even such men as Congreve and Addison would scarcely have
 been able to live like gentlemen by the mere sale of their
 writings. But the deficiency of the natural demand for literature
 was, at the close of the seventeenth and at the beginning            10
 of the eighteenth century, more than made up by artificial
 encouragement, by a vast system of bounties and premiums.
 There was, perhaps, never a time at which the rewards of
 literary merit were so splendid, at which men who could write
 well found such easy admittance into the most distinguished          15
 society, and to the highest honours of the state. The chiefs
 of both the great parties into which the kingdom was divided
 patronised literature with emulous munificence. Congreve,
 when he had scarcely attained his majority, was rewarded for
 his first comedy with places which made him independent for          20
 life. Smith, though his Hippolytus and Phædra failed, would
 have been consoled with three hundred a year but for his own
 folly. Rowe was not only Poet Laureate, but also land-surveyor
 of the customs in the port of London, clerk of the council to
 the Prince of Wales, and secretary of the Presentations to the       25
 Lord Chancellor. Hughes was secretary to the Commissions
 of the Peace. Ambrose Philips was judge of the Prerogative
 Court in Ireland. Locke was Commissioner of Appeals and
 of the Board of Trade. Newton was Master of the Mint.
 Stepney and Prior were employed in embassies of high dignity         30
 and importance. Gay, who commenced life as an apprentice
 to a silk mercer, became a secretary of legation at five-and-twenty.
 It was to a poem on the Death of Charles the Second,
 and to the City and Country Mouse, that Montague owed
 his introduction into public life, his earldom, his garter, and
 his Auditorship of the Exchequer. Swift, but for the unconquerable
 prejudice of the queen, would have been a bishop.
 Oxford, with his white staff in his hand, passed through the
 crowd of his suitors to welcome Parnell, when that ingenious          5
 writer deserted the Whigs. Steele was a commissioner of
 stamps and a member of Parliament. Arthur Mainwaring was
 a commissioner of the customs, and auditor of the imprest.
 Tickell was secretary to the Lords Justices of Ireland. Addison
 was secretary of state.                                              10

 10. This liberal patronage was brought into fashion, as it
 seems, by the magnificent Dorset, almost the only noble versifier
 in the court of Charles the Second who possessed talents
 for composition which were independent of the aid of a coronet.
 Montague owed his elevation to the favour of Dorset, and             15
 imitated through the whole course of his life the liberality to
 which he was himself so greatly indebted. The Tory leaders,
 Harley and Bolingbroke in particular, vied with the chiefs of
 the Whig party in zeal for the encouragement of letters. But
 soon after the accession of the House of Hanover a change            20
 took place. The supreme power passed to a man who cared
 little for poetry or eloquence. The importance of the House
 of Commons was constantly on the increase. The government
 was under the necessity of bartering for Parliamentary support
 much of that patronage which had been employed in fostering          25
 literary merit; and Walpole was by no means inclined to
 divert any part of the fund of corruption to purposes which he
 considered as idle. He had eminent talents for government
 and for debate. But he had paid little attention to books,
 and felt little respect for authors. One of the coarse jokes of      30
 his friend, Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, was far more pleasing
 to him than Thomson's Seasons or Richardson's Pamela.
 He had observed that some of the distinguished writers
 whom the favour of Halifax had turned into statesmen had
 been mere encumbrances to their party, dawdlers in office,
 and mutes in Parliament. During the whole course of his
 administration, therefore, he scarcely befriended a single man
 of genius. The best writers of the age gave all their support
 to the opposition, and contributed to excite that discontent          5
 which, after plunging the nation into a foolish and unjust war,
 overthrew the minister to make room for men less able and
 equally immoral. The opposition could reward its eulogists
 with little more than promises and caresses. St. James's would
 give nothing: Leicester House had nothing to give.                   10

 11. Thus, at the time when Johnson commenced his literary
 career, a writer had little to hope from the patronage of
 powerful individuals. The patronage of the public did not
 yet furnish the means of comfortable subsistence. The prices
 paid by booksellers to authors were so low that a man of             15
 considerable talents and unremitting industry could do little more
 than provide for the day which was passing over him. The
 lean kine had eaten up the fat kine. The thin and withered
 ears had devoured the good ears. The season of rich harvests
 was over, and the period of famine had begun. All that is            20
 squalid and miserable might now be summed up in the word
 Poet. That word denoted a creature dressed like a scarecrow,
 familiar with compters and spunging-houses, and perfectly
 qualified to decide on the comparative merits of the Common
 Side in the King's Bench prison and of Mount Scoundrel               25
 in the Fleet. Even the poorest pitied him; and they well
 might pity him. For if their condition was equally abject,
 their aspirings were not equally high, nor their sense of
 insult equally acute. To lodge in a garret up four pair of
 stairs, to dine in a cellar among footmen out of place, to           30
 translate ten hours a day for the wages of a ditcher, to be hunted
 by bailiffs from one haunt of beggary and pestilence to another,
 from Grub Street to St. George's Fields, and from St. George's
 Fields to the alleys behind St. Martin's church, to sleep on a
 bulk in June and amidst the ashes of a glass-house in December,
 to die in a hospital and to be buried in a parish vault,
 was the fate of more than one writer who, if he had lived
 thirty years earlier, would have been admitted to the sittings
 of the Kitcat or the Scriblerus club, would have sat in Parliament,   5
 and would have been intrusted with embassies to the
 High Allies; who, if he had lived in our time, would have
 found encouragement scarcely less munificent in Albemarle
 Street or in Paternoster Row.

 12. As every climate has its peculiar diseases, so every walk        10
 of life has its peculiar temptations. The literary character,
 assuredly, has always had its share of faults, vanity, jealousy,
 morbid sensibility. To these faults were now superadded the
 faults which are commonly found in men whose livelihood is
 precarious, and whose principles are exposed to the trial of         15
 severe distress. All the vices of the gambler and of the beggar
 were blended with those of the author. The prizes in the
 wretched lottery of book-making were scarcely less ruinous than
 the blanks. If good fortune came, it came in such a manner
 that it was almost certain to be abused. After months of             20
 starvation and despair, a full third night or a well-received
 dedication filled the pocket of the lean, ragged, unwashed
 poet with guineas. He hastened to enjoy those luxuries with
 the images of which his mind had been haunted while he
 was sleeping amidst the cinders and eating potatoes at the           25
 Irish ordinary in Shoe Lane. A week of taverns soon qualified
 him for another year of night-cellars. Such was the life
 of Savage, of Boyse, and of a crowd of others. Sometimes
 blazing in gold-laced hats and waistcoats; sometimes lying in
 bed because their coats had gone to pieces, or wearing paper         30
 cravats because their linen was in pawn; sometimes drinking
 Champagne and Tokay with Betty Careless; sometimes
 standing at the window of an eating-house in Porridge island,
 to snuff up the scent of what they could not afford to taste;
 they knew luxury; they knew beggary; but they never knew
 comfort. These men were irreclaimable. They looked on a
 regular and frugal life with the same aversion which an old
 gipsy or a Mohawk hunter feels for a stationary abode, and for
 the restraints and securities of civilised communities. They          5
 were as untameable, as much wedded to their desolate freedom,
 as the wild ass. They could no more be broken in to
 the offices of social man than the unicorn could be trained to
 serve and abide by the crib. It was well if they did not, like
 beasts of a still fiercer race, tear the hands which ministered      10
 to their necessities. To assist them was impossible; and the
 most benevolent of mankind at length became weary of giving
 relief which was dissipated with the wildest profusion as soon
 as it had been received. If a sum was bestowed on the
 wretched adventurer, such as, properly husbanded, might              15
 have supplied him for six months, it was instantly spent in
 strange freaks of sensuality, and before forty-eight hours had
 elapsed, the poet was again pestering all his acquaintance for
 twopence to get a plate of shin of beef at a subterraneous
 cook-shop. If his friends gave him an asylum in their houses,        20
 those houses were forthwith turned into bagnios and taverns.
 All order was destroyed; all business was suspended. The
 most good-natured host began to repent of his eagerness to
 serve a man of genius in distress when he heard his guest
 roaring for fresh punch at five o'clock in the morning.              25

 13. A few eminent writers were more fortunate. Pope had
 been raised above poverty by the active patronage which, in
 his youth, both the great political parties had extended to his
 Homer. Young had received the only pension ever bestowed,
 to the best of our recollection, by Sir Robert Walpole, as the       30
 reward of mere literary merit. One or two of the many poets
 who attached themselves to the opposition, Thomson in particular
 and Mallet, obtained, after much severe suffering, the
 means of subsistence from their political friends. Richardson,
 like a man of sense, kept his shop; and his shop kept him,
 which his novels, admirable as they are, would scarcely have
 done. But nothing could be more deplorable than the state
 even of the ablest men, who at that time depended for subsistence
 on their writings. Johnson, Collins, Fielding, and                    5
 Thomson, were certainly four of the most distinguished persons
 that England produced during the eighteenth century.
 It is well known that they were all four arrested for debt.

 14. Into calamities and difficulties such as these Johnson
 plunged in his twenty-eighth year. From that time till he was        10
 three or four and fifty, we have little information respecting
 him; little, we mean, compared with the full and accurate
 information which we possess respecting his proceedings and
 habits towards the close of his life. He emerged at length
 from cock-lofts and sixpenny ordinaries into the society of the      15
 polished and the opulent. His fame was established. A pension
 sufficient for his wants had been conferred on him: and
 he came forth to astonish a generation with which he had
 almost as little in common as with Frenchmen or Spaniards.

 15. In his early years he had occasionally seen the great;           20
 but he had seen them as a beggar. He now came among
 them as a companion. The demand for amusement and
 instruction had, during the course of twenty years, been gradually
 increasing. The price of literary labour had risen; and
 those rising men of letters with whom Johnson was henceforth         25
 to associate were for the most part persons widely different
 from those who had walked about with him all night in the
 streets for want of a lodging. Burke, Robertson, the Wartons,
 Gray, Mason, Gibbon, Adam Smith, Beattie, Sir William
 Jones, Goldsmith, and Churchill, were the most distinguished         30
 writers of what may be called the second generation of the
 Johnsonian age. Of these men Churchill was the only one
 in whom we can trace the stronger lineaments of that character
 which, when Johnson first came up to London, was common
 among authors. Of the rest, scarcely any had felt the pressure
 of severe poverty. Almost all had been early admitted
 into the most respectable society on an equal footing. They
 were men of quite a different species from the dependents of
 Curll and Osborne.                                                    5

 16. Johnson came among them the solitary specimen of
 a past age, the last survivor of the genuine race of Grub
 Street hacks; the last of that generation of authors whose
 abject misery and whose dissolute manners had furnished
 inexhaustible matter to the satirical genius of Pope. From           10
 nature he had received an uncouth figure, a diseased constitution,
 and an irritable temper. The manner in which the
 earlier years of his manhood had been passed had given to
 his demeanour, and even to his moral character, some peculiarities
 appalling to the civilised beings who were the companions            15
 of his old age. The perverse irregularity of his hours,
 the slovenliness of his person, his fits of strenuous exertion,
 interrupted by long intervals of sluggishness, his strange abstinence,
 and his equally strange voracity, his active benevolence,
 contrasted with the constant rudeness and the occasional             20
 ferocity of his manners in society, made him, in the opinion
 of those with whom he lived during the last twenty years of
 his life, a complete original. An original he was, undoubtedly,
 in some respects. But if we possessed full information
 concerning those who shared his early hardships, we should           25
 probably find that what we call his singularities of manner
 were, for the most part, failings which he had in common
 with the class to which he belonged. He ate at Streatham
 Park as he had been used to eat behind the screen at
 St. John's Gate, when he was ashamed to show his ragged              30
 clothes. He ate as it was natural that a man should eat, who,
 during a great part of his life, had passed the morning in
 doubt whether he should have food for the afternoon. The
 habits of his early life had accustomed him to bear privation
 with fortitude, but not to taste pleasure with moderation.
 He could fast; but, when he did not fast, he tore his dinner
 like a famished wolf, with the veins swelling on his forehead,
 and the perspiration running down his cheeks. He
 scarcely ever took wine. But when he drank it, he drank it            5
 greedily and in large tumblers. These were, in fact, mitigated
 symptoms of that same moral disease which raged with such
 deadly malignity in his friends Savage and Boyse. The
 roughness and violence which he showed in society were to
 be expected from a man whose temper, not naturally gentle,           10
 had been long tried by the bitterest calamities, by the want
 of meat, of fire, and of clothes, by the importunity of creditors,
 by the insolence of booksellers, by the derision of fools,
 by the insincerity of patrons, by that bread which is the
 bitterest of all food, by those stairs which are the most toilsome   15
 of all paths, by that deferred hope which makes the
 heart sick. Through all these things the ill-dressed, coarse,
 ungainly pedant had struggled manfully up to eminence and
 command. It was natural that, in the exercise of his power,
 he should be "eo immitior, quia toleraverat," that, though his       20
 heart was undoubtedly generous and humane, his demeanour
 in society should be harsh and despotic. For severe distress
 he had sympathy, and not only sympathy, but munificent
 relief. But for the suffering which a harsh world inflicts
 upon a delicate mind he had no pity; for it was a kind of            25
 suffering which he could scarcely conceive. He would carry
 home on his shoulders a sick and starving girl from the
 streets. He turned his house into a place of refuge for a
 crowd of wretched old creatures who could find no other
 asylum; nor could all their peevishness and ingratitude weary        30
 out his benevolence. But the pangs of wounded vanity
 seemed to him ridiculous; and he scarcely felt sufficient
 compassion even for the pangs of wounded affection. He
 had seen and felt so much of sharp misery, that he was not
 affected by paltry vexations; and he seemed to think that
 every body ought to be as much hardened to those vexations
 as himself. He was angry with Boswell for complaining of
 a headache, with Mrs. Thrale for grumbling about the dust
 on the road, or the smell of the kitchen. These were, in              5
 his phrase, "foppish lamentations," which people ought to
 be ashamed to utter in a world so full of sin and sorrow.
 Goldsmith crying because the Good-natured Man had failed,
 inspired him with no pity. Though his own health was not
 good, he detested and despised valetudinarians. Pecuniary            10
 losses, unless they reduced the loser absolutely to beggary,
 moved him very little. People whose hearts had been softened
 by prosperity might weep, he said, for such events; but
 all that could be expected of a plain man was not to laugh.
 He was not much moved even by the spectacle of Lady                  15
 Tavistock dying of a broken heart for the loss of her lord.
 Such grief he considered as a luxury reserved for the idle and
 the wealthy. A washerwoman, left a widow with nine small
 children, would not have sobbed herself to death.

 17. A person who troubled himself so little about small              20
 or sentimental grievances was not likely to be very attentive
 to the feelings of others in the ordinary intercourse of society.
 He could not understand how a sarcasm or a reprimand
 could make any man really unhappy. "My dear doctor,"
 said he to Goldsmith, "what harm does it do to a man to call         25
 him Holofernes?" "Pooh, ma'am," he exclaimed to Mrs.
 Carter, "who is the worse for being talked of uncharitably?"
 Politeness has been well defined as benevolence in small
 things. Johnson was impolite, not because he wanted benevolence,
 but because small things appeared smaller to him than                30
 to people who had never known what it was to live for fourpence
 halfpenny a day.

 18. The characteristic peculiarity of his intellect was the
 union of great powers with low prejudices. If we judged of
 him by the best parts of his mind, we should place him almost
 as high as he was placed by the idolatry of Boswell; if by
 the worst parts of his mind, we should place him even below
 Boswell himself. Where he was not under the influence of
 some strange scruple, or some domineering passion, which              5
 prevented him from boldly and fairly investigating a subject,
 he was a wary and acute reasoner, a little too much inclined
 to scepticism, and a little too fond of paradox. No man was
 less likely to be imposed upon by fallacies in argument or by
 exaggerated statements of fact. But if, while he was beating         10
 down sophisms and exposing false testimony, some childish
 prejudices, such as would excite laughter in a well-managed
 nursery, came across him, he was smitten as if by enchantment.
 His mind dwindled away under the spell from gigantic
 elevation to dwarfish littleness. Those who had lately been          15
 admiring its amplitude and its force were now as much astonished
 at its strange narrowness and feebleness as the fisherman
 in the Arabian tale, when he saw the Genie, whose stature
 had overshadowed the whole sea-coast, and whose might
 seemed equal to a contest with armies, contract himself to           20
 the dimensions of his small prison, and lie there the helpless
 slave of the charm of Solomon.

 19. Johnson was in the habit of sifting with extreme severity
 the evidence for all stories which were merely odd. But when
 they were not only odd but miraculous, his severity relaxed.         25
 He began to be credulous precisely at the point where the
 most credulous people begin to be sceptical. It is curious to
 observe, both in his writings and in his conversation, the contrast
 between the disdainful manner in which he rejects unauthenticated
 anecdotes, even when they are consistent with the                    30
 general laws of nature, and the respectful manner in which he
 mentions the wildest stories relating to the invisible world.
 A man who told him of a waterspout or a meteoric stone
 generally had the lie direct given him for his pains. A man
 who told him of a prediction or a dream wonderfully accomplished
 was sure of a courteous hearing. "Johnson," observed
 Hogarth, "like king David, says in his haste that all men are
 liars." "His incredulity," says Mrs. Thrale, "amounted almost
 to disease." She tells us how he browbeat a gentleman, who            5
 gave him an account of a hurricane in the West Indies, and a
 poor quaker who related some strange circumstance about the
 red-hot balls fired at the siege of Gibraltar. "It is not so.
 It cannot be true. Don't tell that story again. You cannot
 think how poor a figure you make in telling it." He once said,       10
 half jestingly we suppose, that for six months he refused to
 credit the fact of the earthquake at Lisbon, and that he still
 believed the extent of the calamity to be greatly exaggerated.
 Yet he related with a grave face how old Mr. Cave of St. John's
 Gate saw a ghost, and how this ghost was something of a shadowy      15
 being. He went himself on a ghost hunt to Cock Lane, and
 was angry with John Wesley for not following up another scent
 of the same kind with proper spirit and perseverance. He rejects
 the Celtic genealogies and poems without the least hesitation;
 yet he declares himself willing to believe the stories of            20
 the second sight. If he had examined the claims of the Highland
 seers with half the severity with which he sifted the evidence
 for the genuineness of Fingal, he would, we suspect, have
 come away from Scotland with a mind fully made up. In his
 Lives of the Poets, we find that he is unwilling to give credit      25
 to the accounts of Lord Roscommon's early proficiency in his
 studies; but he tells with great solemnity an absurd romance
 about some intelligence preternaturally impressed on the mind
 of that nobleman. He avows himself to be in great doubt
 about the truth of the story, and ends by warning his readers        30
 not wholly to slight such impressions.

 20. Many of his sentiments on religious subjects are worthy
 of a liberal and enlarged mind. He could discern clearly
 enough the folly and meanness of all bigotry except his own.
 When he spoke of the scruples of the Puritans, he spoke like
 a person who had really obtained an insight into the divine
 philosophy of the New Testament, and who considered Christianity
 as a noble scheme of government, tending to promote
 the happiness and to elevate the moral nature of man. The             5
 horror which the sectaries felt for cards, Christmas ale,
 plum-porridge, mince-pies, and dancing-bears, excited his contempt.
 To the arguments urged by some very worthy people against
 showy dress he replied with admirable sense and spirit, "Let
 us not be found, when our Master calls us, stripping the lace        10
 off our waistcoats, but the spirit of contention from our souls
 and tongues. Alas! sir, the man who cannot get to heaven in
 a green coat will not find his way thither the sooner in a grey
 one." Yet he was himself under the tyranny of scruples as
 unreasonable as those of Hudibras or Ralpho, and carried his         15
 zeal for ceremonies and for ecclesiastical dignities to lengths
 altogether inconsistent with reason or with Christian charity.
 He has gravely noted down in his diary that he once committed
 the sin of drinking coffee on Good Friday. In Scotland, he
 thought it his duty to pass several months without joining in        20
 public worship, solely because the ministers of the kirk had not
 been ordained by bishops. His mode of estimating the piety
 of his neighbours was somewhat singular. "Campbell," said
 he, "is a good man, a pious man. I am afraid he has not
 been in the inside of a church for many years; but he never          25
 passes a church without pulling off his hat: this shows he has
 good principles." Spain and Sicily must surely contain many
 pious robbers and well-principled assassins. Johnson could
 easily see that a Roundhead who named all his children after
 Solomon's singers, and talked in the House of Commons about          30
 seeking the Lord, might be an unprincipled villain whose religious
 mummeries only aggravated his guilt. But a man who
 took off his hat when he passed a church episcopally consecrated
 must be a good man, a pious man, a man of good principles.
 Johnson could easily see that those persons who looked on
 a dance or a laced waistcoat as sinful, deemed most ignobly
 of the attributes of God and of the ends of revelation. But
 with what a storm of invective he would have overwhelmed
 any man who had blamed him for celebrating the redemption             5
 of mankind with sugarless tea and butterless buns.

 21. Nobody spoke more contemptuously of the cant of
 patriotism. Nobody saw more clearly the error of those who
 regarded liberty, not as a means, but as an end, and who
 proposed to themselves, as the object of their pursuit, the          10
 prosperity of the state as distinct from the prosperity of the
 individuals who compose the state. His calm and settled opinion
 seems to have been that forms of government have little or no
 influence on the happiness of society. This opinion, erroneous
 as it is, ought at least to have preserved him from all              15
 intemperance on political questions. It did not, however, preserve
 him from the lowest, fiercest, and most absurd extravagances of
 party-spirit, from rants which, in every thing but the diction,
 resembled those of Squire Western. He was, as a politician,
 half ice and half fire. On the side of his intellect he was a        20
 mere Pococurante, far too apathetic about public affairs, far too
 sceptical as to the good or evil tendency of any form of polity.
 His passions, on the contrary, were violent even to slaying
 against all who leaned to Whiggish principles. The well-known
 lines which he inserted in Goldsmith's Traveller express             25
 what seems to have been his deliberate judgment:

     "How small of all that human hearts endure
     That part which kings or laws can cause or cure!"

 He had previously put expressions very similar into the mouth
 of Rasselas. It is amusing to contrast these passages with the       30
 torrents of raving abuse which he poured forth against the
 Long Parliament and the American Congress. In one of the
 conversations reported by Boswell this inconsistency displays
 itself in the most ludicrous manner.

 22. "Sir Adam Ferguson," says Boswell, "suggested that
 luxury corrupts a people, and destroys the spirit of liberty.
 JOHNSON: 'Sir, that is all visionary. I would not give half
 a guinea to live under one form of government rather than
 another. It is of no moment to the happiness of an individual.        5
 Sir, the danger of the abuse of power is nothing to a private
 man. What Frenchman is prevented passing his life as he
 pleases?' SIR ADAM: 'But, sir, in the British constitution it
 is surely of importance to keep up a spirit in the people, so as
 to preserve a balance against the crown.' JOHNSON: 'Sir, I           10
 perceive you are a vile Whig. Why all this childish jealousy of
 the power of the crown? The crown has not power enough.'"

 23. One of the old philosophers, Lord Bacon tells us, used
 to say that life and death were just the same to him. "Why,
 then," said an objector, "do you not kill yourself?" The             15
 philosopher answered, "Because it is just the same." If
 the difference between two forms of government be not
 worth half a guinea, it is not easy to see how Whiggism can
 be viler than Toryism, or how the crown can have too little
 power. If the happiness of individuals is not affected by            20
 political abuses, zeal for liberty is doubtless ridiculous. But
 zeal for monarchy must be equally so. No person would
 have been more quick-sighted than Johnson to such a contradiction
 as this in the logic of an antagonist.

 24. The judgments which Johnson passed on books were,                25
 in his own time, regarded with superstitious veneration, and, in
 our time, are generally treated with indiscriminate contempt.
 They are the judgments of a strong but enslaved understanding.
 The mind of the critic was hedged round by an uninterrupted
 fence of prejudices and superstitions. Within his narrow limits,     30
 he displayed a vigour and an activity which ought to have
 enabled him to clear the barrier that confined him.

 25. How it chanced that a man who reasoned on his premises
 so ably, should assume his premises so foolishly, is one of
 the great mysteries of human nature. The same inconsistency
 may be observed in the schoolmen of the middle ages.
 Those writers show so much acuteness and force of mind in
 arguing on their wretched data, that a modern reader is perpetually
 at a loss to comprehend how such minds came by                        5
 such data. Not a flaw in the superstructure of the theory
 which they are rearing escapes their vigilance. Yet they are
 blind to the obvious unsoundness of the foundation. It is
 the same with some eminent lawyers. Their legal arguments
 are intellectual prodigies, abounding with the happiest analogies    10
 and the most refined distinctions. The principles of
 their arbitrary science being once admitted, the statute-book
 and the reports being once assumed as the foundations of
 reasoning, these men must be allowed to be perfect masters
 of logic. But if a question arises as to the postulates on which     15
 their whole system rests, if they are called upon to vindicate the
 fundamental maxims of that system which they have passed
 their lives in studying, these very men often talk the language
 of savages or of children. Those who have listened to a man
 of this class in his own court, and who have witnessed the skill     20
 with which he analyses and digests a vast mass of evidence, or
 reconciles a crowd of precedents which at first sight seem
 contradictory, scarcely know him again when, a few hours later,
 they hear him speaking on the other side of Westminster
 Hall in his capacity of legislator. They can scarcely believe        25
 that the paltry quirks which are faintly heard through a storm
 of coughing, and which do not impose on the plainest country
 gentleman, can proceed from the same sharp and vigorous
 intellect which had excited their admiration under the same
 roof, and on the same day.                                           30

 26. Johnson decided literary questions like a lawyer, not
 like a legislator. He never examined foundations where a
 point was already ruled. His whole code of criticism rested
 on pure assumption, for which he sometimes quoted a precedent
 or an authority, but rarely troubled himself to give a reason
 drawn from the nature of things. He took it for granted that
 the kind of poetry which flourished in his own time, which he
 had been accustomed to hear praised from his childhood, and
 which he had himself written with success, was the best kind          5
 of poetry. In his biographical work he has repeatedly laid
 it down as an undeniable proposition that during the latter
 part of the seventeenth century, and the earlier part of the
 eighteenth, English poetry had been in a constant progress
 of improvement. Waller, Denham, Dryden, and Pope, had                10
 been, according to him, the great reformers. He judged of
 all works of the imagination by the standard established among
 his own contemporaries. Though he allowed Homer to have
 been a greater man than Virgil, he seems to have thought the
 Æneid a greater poem than the Iliad. Indeed he well might            15
 have thought so; for he preferred Pope's Iliad to Homer's.
 He pronounced that, after Hoole's translation of Tasso, Fairfax's
 would hardly be reprinted. He could see no merit in
 our fine old English ballads, and always spoke with the most
 provoking contempt of Percy's fondness for them. Of the              20
 great original works of imagination which appeared during
 his time, Richardson's novels alone excited his admiration.
 He could see little or no merit in Tom Jones, in Gulliver's
 Travels, or in Tristram Shandy. To Thomson's Castle of
 Indolence, he vouchsafed only a line of cold commendation,           25
 of commendation much colder than what he has bestowed
 on the Creation of that portentous bore, Sir Richard Blackmore.
 Gray was, in his dialect, a barren rascal. Churchill
 was a blockhead. The contempt which he felt for the trash
 of Macpherson was indeed just; but it was, we suspect,               30
 just by chance. He despised the Fingal for the very reason
 which led many men of genius to admire it. He despised it,
 not because it was essentially commonplace, but because it
 had a superficial air of originality.

 27. He was undoubtedly an excellent judge of compositions
 fashioned on his own principles. But when a deeper philosophy
 was required, when he undertook to pronounce judgment
 on the works of those great minds which "yield homage
 only to eternal laws," his failure was ignominious. He criticised     5
 Pope's Epitaphs excellently. But his observations on
 Shakespeare's plays and Milton's poems seem to us for the
 most part as wretched as if they had been written by Rymer
 himself, whom we take to have been the worst critic that
 ever lived.                                                          10

 28. Some of Johnson's whims on literary subjects can be
 compared only to that strange nervous feeling which made him
 uneasy if he had not touched every post between the Mitre
 tavern and his own lodgings. His preference of Latin epitaphs
 to English epitaphs is an instance. An English epitaph, he           15
 said, would disgrace Smollett. He declared that he would not
 pollute the walls of Westminster Abbey with an English epitaph
 on Goldsmith. What reason there can be for celebrating a
 British writer in Latin, which there was not for covering the
 Roman arches of triumph with Greek inscriptions, or for              20
 commemorating the deeds of the heroes of Thermopylæ in
 Egyptian hieroglyphics, we are utterly unable to imagine.

 29. On men and manners, at least on the men and manners
 of a particular place and a particular age, Johnson had
 certainly looked with a most observant and discriminating eye.       25
 His remarks on the education of children, on marriage, on
 the economy of families, on the rules of society, are always
 striking, and generally sound. In his writings, indeed, the
 knowledge of life which he possessed in an eminent degree is
 very imperfectly exhibited. Like those unfortunate chiefs of         30
 the middle ages who were suffocated by their own chain-mail
 and cloth of gold, his maxims perish under that load of words
 which was designed for their defence and their ornament.
 But it is clear from the remains of his conversation, that he
 had more of that homely wisdom which nothing but experience
 and observation can give than any writer since the time
 of Swift. If he had been content to write as he talked, he
 might have left books on the practical art of living superior
 to the Directions to Servants.                                        5

 30. Yet even his remarks on society, like his remarks on
 literature, indicate a mind at least as remarkable for narrowness
 as for strength. He was no master of the great science
 of human nature. He had studied, not the genus man, but
 the species Londoner. Nobody was ever so thoroughly conversant       10
 with all the forms of life and all the shades of moral
 and intellectual character which were to be seen from Islington
 to the Thames, and from Hyde-Park corner to Mile-end green.
 But his philosophy stopped at the first turnpike-gate. Of the
 rural life of England he knew nothing; and he took it for            15
 granted that every body who lived in the country was either
 stupid or miserable. "Country gentlemen," said he, "must
 be unhappy; for they have not enough to keep their lives in
 motion"; as if all those peculiar habits and associations which
 made Fleet Street and Charing Cross the finest views in the          20
 world to himself had been essential parts of human nature.
 Of remote countries and past times he talked with wild and
 ignorant presumption. "The Athenians of the age of Demosthenes,"
 he said to Mrs. Thrale, "were a people of brutes, a
 barbarous people." In conversation with Sir Adam Ferguson            25
 he used similar language. "The boasted Athenians," he said,
 "were barbarians. The mass of every people must be barbarous
 where there is no printing." The fact was this: he saw that
 a Londoner who could not read was a very stupid and brutal
 fellow: he saw that great refinement of taste and activity of        30
 intellect were rarely found in a Londoner who had not read
 much; and, because it was by means of books that people
 acquired almost all their knowledge in the society with which
 he was acquainted, he concluded, in defiance of the strongest
 and clearest evidence, that the human mind can be cultivated
 by means of books alone. An Athenian citizen might possess
 very few volumes; and the largest library to which he had
 access might be much less valuable than Johnson's bookcase
 in Bolt Court. But the Athenian might pass every morning              5
 in conversation with Socrates, and might hear Pericles speak
 four or five times every month. He saw the plays of Sophocles
 and Aristophanes: he walked amidst the friezes of Phidias
 and the paintings of Zeuxis: he knew by heart the choruses
 of Æschylus: he heard the rhapsodist at the corner of the            10
 street reciting the Shield of Achilles or the Death of Argus:
 he was a legislator, conversant with high questions of alliance,
 revenue, and war: he was a soldier, trained under a liberal
 and generous discipline: he was a judge, compelled every day
 to weigh the effect of opposite arguments. These things were         15
 in themselves an education, an education eminently fitted, not,
 indeed, to form exact or profound thinkers, but to give quickness
 to the perceptions, delicacy to the taste, fluency to the
 expression, and politeness to the manners. All this was overlooked.
 An Athenian who did not improve his mind by reading                  20
 was, in Johnson's opinion, much such a person as a
 Cockney who made his mark, much such a person as black
 Frank before he went to school, and far inferior to a parish
 clerk or a printer's devil.

 31. Johnson's friends have allowed that he carried to a              25
 ridiculous extreme his unjust contempt for foreigners. He
 pronounced the French to be a very silly people, much behind
 us, stupid, ignorant creatures. And this judgment he formed
 after having been at Paris about a month, during which he
 would not talk French, for fear of giving the natives an             30
 advantage over him in conversation. He pronounced them,
 also, to be an indelicate people, because a French footman
 touched the sugar with his fingers. That ingenious and
 amusing traveller, M. Simond, has defended his countrymen
 very successfully against Johnson's accusation, and has pointed
 out some English practices which, to an impartial spectator,
 would seem at least as inconsistent with physical cleanliness
 and social decorum as those which Johnson so bitterly reprehended.
 To the sage, as Boswell loves to call him, it never                   5
 occurred to doubt that there must be something eternally
 and immutably good in the usages to which he had been
 accustomed. In fact, Johnson's remarks on society beyond
 the bills of mortality, are generally of much the same kind
 with those of honest Tom Dawson, the English footman in              10
 Dr. Moore's Zeluco. "Suppose the king of France has no
 sons, but only a daughter, then, when the king dies, this here
 daughter, according to that there law, cannot be made queen,
 but the next near relative, provided he is a man, is made king,
 and not the last king's daughter, which, to be sure, is very         15
 unjust. The French foot-guards are dressed in blue, and all
 the marching regiments in white, which has a very foolish
 appearance for soldiers; and as for blue regimentals, it is
 only fit for the blue horse or the artillery."

 32. Johnson's visit to the Hebrides introduced him to a              20
 state of society completely new to him; and a salutary suspicion
 of his own deficiencies seems on that occasion to have
 crossed his mind for the first time. He confessed, in the
 last paragraph of his Journey, that his thoughts on national
 manners were the thoughts of one who had seen but little, of         25
 one who had passed his time almost wholly in cities. This
 feeling, however, soon passed away. It is remarkable that to
 the last he entertained a fixed contempt for all those modes
 of life and those studies which tend to emancipate the mind
 from the prejudices of a particular age or a particular nation.      30
 Of foreign travel and of history he spoke with the fierce and
 boisterous contempt of ignorance. "What does a man learn
 by travelling? Is Beauclerk the better for travelling? What
 did Lord Charlemont learn in his travels, except that there
 was a snake in one of the pyramids of Egypt?" History was,
 in his opinion, to use the fine expression of Lord Plunkett, an
 old almanack: historians could, as he conceived, claim no
 higher dignity than that of almanack-makers; and his favourite
 historians were those who, like Lord Hailes, aspired to no            5
 higher dignity. He always spoke with contempt of Robertson.
 Hume he would not even read. He affronted one of
 his friends for talking to him about Catiline's conspiracy, and
 declared that he never desired to hear of the Punic war again
 as long as he lived.                                                 10

 33. Assuredly one fact which does not directly affect our
 own interests, considered in itself, is no better worth knowing
 than another fact. The fact that there is a snake in a pyramid,
 or the fact that Hannibal crossed the Alps, are in themselves
 as unprofitable to us as the fact that there is a green              15
 blind in a particular house in Threadneedle Street, or the
 fact that a Mr. Smith comes into the city every morning on
 the top of one of the Blackwall stages. But it is certain that
 those who will not crack the shell of history will never get at
 the kernel. Johnson, with hasty arrogance, pronounced the            20
 kernel worthless, because he saw no value in the shell. The
 real use of travelling to distant countries and of studying the
 annals of past times is to preserve men from the contraction
 of mind which those can hardly escape whose whole communion
 is with one generation and one neighbourhood, who                    25
 arrive at conclusions by means of an induction not sufficiently
 copious, and who therefore constantly confound exceptions
 with rules, and accidents with essential properties. In
 short, the real use of travelling and of studying history is to
 keep men from being what Tom Dawson was in fiction, and              30
 Samuel Johnson in reality.

 34. Johnson, as Mr. Burke most justly observed, appears
 far greater in Boswell's books than in his own. His conversation
 appears to have been quite equal to his writings in
 matter, and far superior to them in manner. 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. All his
 books are written in a learned language, in a language which          5
 nobody hears from his mother or his nurse, in a language in
 which nobody ever quarrels, or drives bargains, or makes love,
 in a language in which nobody ever thinks. It is clear that
 Johnson himself did not think in the dialect in which he
 wrote. The expressions which came first to his tongue were           10
 simple, energetic, and picturesque. When he wrote for publication
 he did his sentences out of English into Johnsonese.
 His letters from the Hebrides to Mrs. Thrale are the original
 of that work of which the Journey to the Hebrides is the
 translation; and it is amusing to compare the two versions.          15
 "When we were taken up stairs," says he in one of his letters,
 "a dirty fellow bounced out of the bed on which one of us
 was to lie." This incident is recorded in the Journey as
 follows: "Out of one of the beds on which we were to repose
 started up, at our entrance, a man black as a Cyclops from           20
 the forge." Sometimes Johnson translated aloud. "The
 Rehearsal," he said, very unjustly, "has not wit enough to
 keep it sweet"; then, after a pause, "it has not vitality
 enough to preserve it from putrefaction."

 35. Mannerism is pardonable, and is sometimes even agreeable,        25
 when the manner, though vicious, is natural. Few readers,
 for example, would be willing to part with the mannerism of
 Milton or of Burke. But a mannerism which does not sit
 easy on the mannerist, which has been adopted on principle,
 and which can be sustained only by constant effort, is always        30
 offensive. And such is the mannerism of Johnson.

 36. The characteristic faults of his style are so familiar to
 all our readers, and have been so often burlesqued, that it
 is almost superfluous to point them out. It is well known
 that he made less use than any other eminent writer of those
 strong plain words, Anglo-Saxon or Norman-French, of which
 the roots lie in the inmost depths of our language; and that
 he felt a vicious partiality for terms which, long after our own
 speech had been fixed, were borrowed from the Greek and               5
 Latin, and which therefore, even when lawfully naturalised,
 must be considered as born aliens, not entitled to rank with
 the king's English. His constant practice of padding out a
 sentence with useless epithets, till it became as stiff as the
 bust of an exquisite, his antithetical forms of expression,          10
 constantly employed even where there is no opposition in the
 ideas expressed, his big words wasted on little things, his
 harsh inversions, so widely different from those graceful and
 easy inversions which give variety, spirit, and sweetness to
 the expression of our great old writers, all these peculiarities     15
 have been imitated by his admirers and parodied by his
 assailants, till the public has become sick of the subject.

 37. Goldsmith said to him, very wittily and very justly,
 "If you were to write a fable about little fishes, doctor, you
 would make the little fishes talk like whales." No man surely        20
 ever had so little talent for personation as Johnson. Whether
 he wrote in the character of a disappointed legacy-hunter or an
 empty town fop, of a crazy virtuoso or a flippant coquette, he
 wrote in the same pompous and unbending style. His speech,
 like Sir Piercy Shafton's Euphuistic eloquence, bewrayed him         25
 under every disguise. Euphelia and Rhodoclea talk as finely
 as Imlac the poet, or Seged, Emperor of Ethiopia. The gay
 Cornelia describes her reception at the country-house of her
 relations in such terms as these: "I was surprised, after the
 civilities of my first reception, to find, instead of the leisure    30
 and tranquillity which a rural life always promises, and, if
 well conducted, might always afford, a confused wildness of
 care, and a tumultuous hurry of diligence, by which every
 face was clouded, and every motion agitated." The gentle
 Tranquilla informs us, that she "had not passed the earlier
 part of life without the flattery of courtship, and the joys of
 triumph; but had danced the round of gaiety amidst the
 murmurs of envy and the gratulations of applause, had been
 attended from pleasure to pleasure by the great, the sprightly,       5
 and the vain, and had seen her regard solicited by the
 obsequiousness of gallantry, the gaiety of wit, and the timidity of
 love." Surely Sir John Falstaff himself did not wear his petticoats
 with a worse grace. The reader may well cry out,
 with honest Sir Hugh Evans, "I like not when a 'oman has             10
 a great peard: I spy a great peard under her muffler."[19]

 38. We had something more to say. But our article is
 already too long; and we must close it. We would fain
 part in good humour from the hero, from the biographer,
 and even from the editor, who, ill as he has performed his           15
 task, has at least this claim to our gratitude, that he has
 induced us to read Boswell's book again. As we close it, the
 club-room is before us, and the table on which stands the
 omelet for Nugent, and the lemons for Johnson. There are
 assembled those heads which live for ever on the canvass of          20
 Reynolds. There are the spectacles of Burke and the tall
 thin form of Langton, the courtly sneer of Beauclerk, and the
 beaming smile of Garrick, Gibbon tapping his snuff-box, and
 Sir Joshua with his trumpet in his ear. In the foreground is
 that strange figure which is as familiar to us as the figures of     25
 those among whom we have been brought up, the gigantic
 body, the huge massy face, seamed with the scars of disease,
 the brown coat, the black worsted stockings, the grey wig
 with the scorched foretop, the dirty hands, the nails bitten
 and pared to the quick. We see the eyes and mouth moving             30
 with convulsive twitches; we see the heavy form rolling; we
 hear it puffing; and then comes the "Why, sir!" and the
 "What then, sir?" and the "No, sir!" and the "You don't
 see your way through the question, sir!"

 39. What a singular destiny has been that of this remarkable
 man! To be regarded in his own age as a classic, and                  5
 in ours as a companion. To receive from his contemporaries
 that full homage which men of genius have in general received
 only from posterity! To be more intimately known to posterity
 than other men are known to their contemporaries!
 That kind of fame which is commonly the most transient is,           10
 in his case, the most durable. The reputation of those writings,
 which he probably expected to be immortal, is every day
 fading; while those peculiarities of manner and that careless
 table-talk, the memory of which, he probably thought, would
 die with him, are likely to be remembered as long as the             15
 English language is spoken in any quarter of the globe.


=PAGE 1.= LINE 4. =Lichfield.= Observe how near Lichfield comes to
being in the exact center of England.

=1= 4-5. =the midland counties.= As you run your eye over the map, what
counties should you naturally include under this head? In what county
is Lichfield?

=1= 9. =oracle.= "Johnson, the Lichfield librarian, is now here; he
propagates learning all over this diocese, and advanceth knowledge to
its just height; all the clergy here are his pupils, and suck all they
have from him."--From a letter written by Rev. George Plaxton, quoted
by Boswell.

=1= 10-11. =a strong religious and political sympathy.= Macaulay's use
of the article would lead us to think that the two kinds of sympathy
were very closely connected. Michael Johnson was a member of the
Established Church of England, and at heart a believer in the "divine
right" kings. The student who is not familiar with the history of
this period will do well to look up _Jacobite_ in Brewer's _Historic
Note-book_ and then to read in some brief history an account of the
_sovereigns in possession_ who followed James II,--William and Mary
(1689-1702) and Anne (1702-1714). Boswell says, "He no doubt had an
early attachment to the House of Stuart; but his zeal had cooled as his
reason strengthened."

=1= 16. =In the child.= Pause to take the glimpse ahead which this
sentence gives. The construction helps one to remember the three kinds
of peculiarities and the order in which they are mentioned.

=2= 26. =Augustan delicacy of taste.= You may read in Harper's
_Dictionary of Classical Literature and Antiquities_, in the article
on Augustus Cæsar, how "the court of Augustus thus became a school of
culture, where men of genius acquired that delicacy of taste, elevation
of sentiment, and purity of expression which characterize the writers
of the age."

=2= 32. =Petrarch.= Does Macaulay imply that Petrarch is one of "the
great restorers of learning"? See _Renaissance_ in _The Century
Dictionary_ and Harper's _Dictionary of Classical Literature and
Antiquities_. Note that Petrarch "may be said to have rediscovered
Greek, which for some six centuries had been lost to the western
world." Keep in mind, too, that his friend and disciple, Boccaccio,
translated Homer into Latin.

=3= 11. =Pembroke College.= The University of Oxford consists of
twenty-one colleges which together form a corporate body. The colleges
are "endowed by their founders and others with estates and benefices;
out of the revenue arising from the estates, as well as other
resources, the Heads and Senior and Junior Members _on the foundation_
receive an income, and the expenses of the colleges are defrayed.
Members _not on the foundation_, called 'independent members,' reside
entirely at their own expense." Among the members _on the foundation_
are the Heads, Fellows, and Scholars.

=3= 17-18. =Macrobius.= A Roman grammarian who probably lived at the
beginning of the fifth century.

=3= 20. =about three years.= Apparently Johnson remained at Oxford
only fourteen months. See Dr. Hill's _Dr. Johnson, His Friends and His

=4= 1-2. "It was bitterness which they mistook for frolic. I was
miserably poor, and I thought to fight my way by my literature and my
wit; so I disregarded all power and all authority."--Johnson, quoted
by Boswell. Although aware of what he considered the defects of his
college, Johnson loved Pembroke as long as he lived. He delighted in
boasting of its eminent graduates and would have left to it his house
at Lichfield had not wiser friends induced him to bequeath it to some
poor relatives.

=4= 15-16. =his father died.= "I now therefore see that I must make my
own fortune. Meanwhile let me take care that the powers of my mind be
not debilitated by poverty, and that indigence do not force me into any
criminal act."--Johnson, quoted by Boswell.

=5= 32. =Walmesley.= "I am not able to name a man of equal knowledge.
His acquaintance with books was great, and what he did not immediately
know, he could, at least, tell where to find."--Johnson, quoted by

=6= 13. =Politian.= Another of "the great restorers of learning" (see
=2= 31). His beginning of a translation of the _Iliad_ into Latin
attracted the attention of Lorenzo de' Medici, under whose patronage he
became one of the first scholars of Italy.

=6= 17. =fell in love.= Boswell says that Johnson's early attachments
to the fair sex were "very transient," and considers it but natural
that when the passion of love once seized him it should be exceedingly
strong, concentrated as it was in one object.

=6= 22. =Queensberrys and Lepels.= Families of high rank in England.

=7= 3-4. =half ludicrous.= Carlyle says it is no matter for ridicule
that the man "whose look all men both laughed at and shuddered at,
should find any brave female heart, to acknowledge, at first sight
and hearing of him, 'This is the most sensible man I ever met with';
and then, with generous courage, to take him to itself, and say Be
thou mine!... Johnson's deathless affection for his Tetty was always
venerable and noble."

=7= 6-7. At Edial. Although this enterprise did not prosper, the man,
as Carlyle says, "was to become a Teacher of grown gentlemen, in the
most surprising way; a man of Letters, and Ruler of the British Nation
for some time,--not of their bodies merely, but of their minds; not
over them, but _in_ them."

=7= 13. =David Garrick.= The mere fact that this celebrated actor and
successful manager brought out twenty-four of Shakspere's plays is
reason enough why we should look him up. A slight knowledge of his
career enables one to enjoy all the more the frequent references to
him in Boswell's _Life of Johnson_. After reading the sketch in the
_Encyclopædia Britannica_ it would be a good plan to read Boswell's
references consecutively by means of the index.

=8= 9. =Fielding.= For an enjoyable short sketch of the first great
English novelist, see Thackeray's _English Humourists_.

=8= 10. =The Beggar's Opera=, by John Gay, appeared in 1728.

=8= 19. =knot.= See _The Century Dictionary_.

=8= 34. =Drury Lane.= A street in the heart of the city, near the
Strand,--one of the chief thoroughfares. It was beginning to lose its
old-time respectability.

=9= 9. =the sight of food.= Once when Boswell was giving a dinner and
one of the company was late, Boswell proposed to order dinner to be
served, adding, "'Ought six people to be kept waiting for one?' 'Why,
yes,' answered Johnson, with a delicate humanity, 'if the one will
suffer more by your sitting down than the six will do by waiting.'" Is
it probable that Macaulay exaggerates?

=9= 27. =Harleian Library.= The library collected by Robert Harley,
First Earl of Oxford. Osborne afterwards bought it and Johnson did some
of the cataloguing for him. As to Osborne's punishment, Boswell says:
"The simple truth I had from Johnson himself. 'Sir, he was impertinent
to me, and I beat him. But it was not in his shop: it was in my own

=10= 6. =Blefuscu, Mildendo.= If Blefuscu and Mildendo look unfamiliar,
go to Lilliput for them. (See _Gulliver's Travels_.)

=10= 9. "Johnson told me, that as soon as he found that the speeches
were thought genuine, he determined that he would write no more
of them; for he 'would not be accessory to the propagation of

=10= 15. Cf. _The Traveller_. Do you suppose that either Johnson or
Goldsmith really believed that one form of government is as good as

=10= 17. =Montagues.= See Shakspere's _Romeo and Juliet_.

_10_ 18. =Greens.= In Roman chariot races there was the bitterest
rivalry between the different colors of the factions, and the betting
often led to scenes of riot and bloodshed. Once in Justinian's reign,
in the great circus at Constantinople, the tumult was not suppressed
till about thirty thousand of the rioters had been killed. See Gibbon,
_Decline and Fall_, Chapter XL.

=10= 22. =Sacheverell.= What do you gather from the context about this
preacher? Was he high church? Did he preach resistance to the king?

=10= 31. =Tom Tempest.= See Johnson's _Idler_, No. 10.

=10= 32. =Laud.= Read in Gardiner's _Student's History of England_ the
account of this archbishop who tried to enforce uniformity of worship.

=11= 2-4. =Hampden, Falkland, Clarendon.= In the case of these three
statesmen, as well as in the case of Laud, the context shows which of
them were supporters of Charles I and which resisted him. Does Macaulay
imply that Johnson would have been excusable if he had sympathized with
Hampden's refusal to pay "ship money"?

=11= 5. =Roundheads.= If you do not know why they were so called, see
_The Century Dictionary_.

=11= 20-21. =Great Rebellion.= If in doubt as to which rebellion
Macaulay refers, see _The Century Dictionary_ or Brewer's _Dictionary
of Phrase and Fable_.

=12= 2, 8, 10. =Juvenal.= Dryden has translated five of the poems of
this great Roman satirist. It is worth while to compare Johnson's
_London_, a free imitation of the Third Satire, with Dryden's version.
Johnson's poem may be found in Hales's _Longer English Poems_.

=12= 19. Boswell, too, asks us to remember Pope's candor and liberal
conduct on this occasion. Let us not forget it.

=13= 8. =Psalmanazar.= Pretending to be a Japanese, this Frenchman
wrote what he called a _History of Formosa_. Although fabulous, it
deceived the learned world.

=13= 14-15. =blue ribands.= Worn by members of the Order of the Garter.

=13= 16. =Newgate.= The notorious London prison.

=13= 26. =Piazza= here has its first meaning,--"an open square in a
town surrounded by buildings or colonnades, a plaza." This space was
once the "convent" garden of the monks of Westminster. For a brief
sketch of it down to the time its "coffee houses and taverns became the
fashionable lounging-places for the authors, wits, and noted men of the
kingdom," see _The Century Dictionary_.

=14= 11-12. =Grub Street.= "Originally the name of a street in
Moorfields in London, much inhabited by writers of small histories,
dictionaries, and temporary poems; whence any mean production is called

        'I'd sooner ballads write, and _grubstreet_ lays.' Gay."

            --Johnson's _Dictionary_, edition of 1773.

=14= 23. =Warburton.= Bishop Warburton thus praised Johnson in the
Preface to his own edition of _Shakspere_, and Johnson showed his
appreciation by saying to Boswell, "He praised me at a time when
praise was of value to me." On another occasion, when asked whether he
considered Warburton a superior critic to Theobald, he replied, "He'd
make two-and-fifty Theobalds, cut into slices!" Johnson's sketch of
him, in the _Life of Pope_, Boswell calls "the tribute due to him when
he was no longer in 'high place,' but numbered with the dead."

=14= 28-31. He employed six amanuenses, not a large number of
assistants for a task of such magnitude. Nor was the sum of fifteen
hundred guineas a generous one from which to pay these assistants.

=14= 33. =Chesterfield.= Every young man should read an abridged
edition of Chesterfield's _Letters to his Son_; for example, the volume
in the Knickerbocker Nugget Series. It contains much that is worth
remembering, and the style is entertaining.

=15= 17. It is hard to realize what a stupendous task Johnson undertook
when he began his Dictionary. Other dictionaries, notably Bailey's,
were in existence, but they were mere beginnings of what he had in
mind. As lists of words, with explanations of the meanings, they were
useful, but none of them could reasonably be considered a standard. A
standard Johnson's certainly was. Although no etymologist, in general
he not only gave full and clear definitions, but he chose remarkably
happy illustrations of the meanings of words. By taking care, also, to
select passages which were interesting and profitable reading as well
as elegant English, he succeeded in making probably the most readable
dictionary that has ever appeared.

=15= 23. For the _Vanity of Human Wishes_, see Hales's _Longer English
Poems_ or Syle's _From Milton to Tennyson_. As in the case of _London_,
the student will wish to compare Dryden's translation.

=16= 8-9. And this was eleven years after the _London_ had appeared; as
Boswell says, his fame was already established.

=16= 13. =Goodman's Fields.= Garrick made this theater successful.

=16= 15. =Drury Lane Theatre.= Near Drury Lane. (See note to =8= 34.)
Other prominent actors in this famous old theatre were Kean, the
Kembles, and Mrs. Siddons.

=17= 13. See page 7. The story on which _Irene_ is based is as

    Mahomet the Great, first emperor of the Turks, in the year 1453
    laid siege to the city of Constantinople, then possessed by the
    Greeks, and, after an obstinate resistance, took and sacked it.
    Among the many young women whom the commanders thought fit to
    lay hands on and present to him was one named Irene, a Greek,
    of incomparable beauty and such rare perfection of body and
    mind, that the emperor, becoming enamored of her, neglected
    the care of his government and empire for two whole years,
    and thereby so exasperated the Janizaries, that they mutinied
    and threatened to dethrone him. To prevent this mischief,
    Mustapha Bassa, a person of great credit with him, undertook
    to represent to him the great danger to which he lay exposed
    by the indulgence of his passion: he called to his remembrance
    the character, actions, and achievements of his predecessors,
    and the state of his government; and, in short, so roused
    him from his lethargy, that he took a horrible resolution
    to silence the clamors of his people by the sacrifice of
    this admirable creature. Accordingly, he commanded her to be
    dressed and adorned in the richest manner that she and her
    attendants could devise, and against a certain hour issued
    orders for the nobility and leaders of his army to attend him
    in the great hall of his palace. When they were all assembled,
    himself appeared with great pomp and magnificence, leading his
    captive by the hand, unconscious of guilt and ignorant of his
    design. With a furious and menacing look, he gave the beholders
    to understand that he meant to remove the cause of their
    discontent; but bade them first view that lady, whom he held
    with his left hand, and say whether any of them, possessed of a
    jewel so rare and precious, would for any cause forego her; to
    which they answered that he had great reason for his affection
    toward her. To this the emperor replied that he would convince
    them that he was yet master of himself. And having so said,
    presently, with one of his hands catching the fair Greek by
    the hair of the head, and drawing his falchion with the other,
    he, at one blow, struck off her head, to the great terror of
    them all; and having so done, he said unto them, "Now by this
    judge whether your emperor is able to bridle his affections or
    not."--Hawkins's _Life of Johnson_.

=17= 20-21. =Tatler, Spectator.= It is to be hoped that the reader
needs no introduction to these papers or to the account of them in
Macaulay's essay on Addison.

=17= 30. =Rambler.= A suitable title for a series of moral discourses?
At the time of the undertaking he composed a prayer to the effect
that he might in this way promote the glory of Almighty God and the
salvation both of himself and others.--_Prayers and Meditations_, p. 9,
quoted by Boswell.

=17= 31-32. Boswell considers it a strong confirmation of the truth
of Johnson's remark that "a man may write at any time if he will set
himself doggedly to it," that "notwithstanding his constitutional
indolence, his depression of spirits, and his labour in carrying on his
Dictionary, he answered the stated calls of the press twice a week from
the stores of his mind during all that time."

=17= 34. =Richardson.= Samuel Richardson. When he was a boy, the girls
employed him to write love letters for them; and his novels, written in
after life, also took the form of letters. He wrote _Pamela, or Virtue
Rewarded_; _Clarissa Harlowe, or the History of a Young Lady_; and _The
History of Sir Charles Grandison_ (about 1750). Johnson called him "an
author who has enlarged the knowledge of human nature and taught the
passions to move at the command of virtue."

=18= 2. =Young.= Johnson held a high opinion of Edward Young's
most famous work, _Night Thoughts_, and Boswell writes, "No book
whatever can be recommended to young persons, with better hopes of
seasoning their minds with _vital religion_, than Young's _Night
Thoughts_."--=Hartley.= David Hartley, prominent as a psychologist, and
as a physician benevolent and studious. For intimate friends he chose
such men as Warburton and Young.

=18= 3. =Dodington.= A member of Parliament who patronized men of
letters and was complimented by Young and Fielding.

=18= 7. =Frederic.= When Frederick, Prince of Wales, became the
center of the opposition to Walpole, in 1737, among the leaders of
his political friends, called "the Leicester House Party,"--at that
time Leicester House was the residence of the Prince of Wales,--were
Chesterfield, William Pitt, and Bubb Dodington.

=18= 25. In regard to the use of antiquated and hard words, for which
Johnson was censured, he says in _Idler_ No. 90, "He that thinks with
more extent than another, will want words of larger meaning."

=18= 30-32. =brilliancy ... eloquence ... humour.= Johnson wrote many
of these discourses so hastily, says Boswell, that he did not even read
them over before they were printed. Boswell continues: "Sir Joshua
Reynolds once asked him by what means he had attained his extraordinary
accuracy and flow of language. He told him, that he had early laid it
down as a fixed rule to do his best on every occasion, and in every
company: to impart whatever he knew in the most forcible language he
could put it in; and that by constant practice, and never suffering
any careless expressions to escape him, or attempting to deliver his
thoughts without arranging them in the clearest manner, it became
habitual to him." One man who knew Johnson intimately observed "that he
always talked as if he was talking upon oath."

=18= 32-=19= 10. Cf. Johnson's comment: "Whoever wishes to attain
an English style, familiar but not coarse, and elegant but not
ostentatious, must give his days and nights to the volumes of
Addison."--Boswell, 1750.

=19= 1-2. =Sir Roger=, etc. These two sets of allusions offer a good
excuse for handling complete editions of the _Spectator_ and the

=19= 21. =the Gunnings.= "The beautiful Misses Gunning," two
sisters, were born in Ireland. They went to London in 1751, were
continually followed by crowds, and were called "the handsomest women
alive."--=Lady Mary.= Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Let one of the
encyclopædias introduce you to this relative of Fielding who laughed
at Pope when he made love to her, and whose wit had full play in the
brilliant letters from Constantinople which added greatly to her
reputation as an independent thinker.

=19= 23-24. =the Monthly Review.= This Whig periodical would not
appeal to Johnson as did its rival, the _Critical Review_. It was the
_Monthly_ that Goldsmith did hack work for. Smollett wrote for the
other. See Irving's _Life of Goldsmith_, Chapter VII.

=19= 31. It was published in 1755, price £4 10_s._, bound.

=20= 17. The letter, which needs no comment, is as follows:

        February 7, 1755.


    My Lord,

    I have been lately informed, by the proprietor of the World,
    that two papers, in which my Dictionary is recommended to the
    publick, were written by your Lordship. To be so distinguished,
    is an honour, which, being very little accustomed to favours
    from the great, I know not well how to receive, or in what
    terms to acknowledge.

    When, upon some slight encouragement, I first visited your
    Lordship, I was overpowered, like the rest of mankind, by
    the enchantment of your address; and could not forbear to
    wish that I might boast myself _Le vainqueur du vainqueur de
    la terre_;--that I might obtain that regard for which I saw
    the world contending; but I found my attendance so little
    encouraged that neither pride nor modesty would suffer me
    to continue it. When I had once addressed your Lordship in
    publick, I had exhausted all the art of pleasing which a
    retired and uncourtly scholar can possess. I have done all that
    I could; and no man is well pleased to have his all neglected,
    be it ever so little.

    Seven years, my Lord, have now past, since I waited in your
    outward rooms or was repulsed from your door; during which time
    I have been pushing on my work through difficulties, of which
    it is useless to complain, and have brought it, at last, to the
    verge of publication, without one act of assistance, one word
    of encouragement, or one smile of favour. Such treatment I did
    not expect, for I never had a Patron before.

    The shepherd in Virgil grew at last acquainted with Love, and
    found him a native of the rocks.

    Is not a Patron, my Lord, one who looks with unconcern on a
    man struggling for life in the water, and, when he has reached
    ground, encumbers him with help? The notice which you have
    been pleased to take of my labours, had it been early, had
    been kind; but it has been delayed till I am indifferent, and
    cannot enjoy it; till I am solitary, and cannot impart it; till
    I am known, and do not want it. I hope it is no very cynical
    asperity not to confess obligations where no benefit has been
    received, or to be unwilling that the Publick should consider
    me as owing that to a Patron, which Providence has enabled me
    to do for myself.

    Having carried on my work thus far with so little obligation to
    any favourer of learning, I shall not be disappointed though
    I should conclude it, if less be possible, with less; for I
    have been long wakened from that dream of hope, in which I once
    boasted myself with so much exultation,

            My Lord,
        Your Lordship's most humble,
              Most obedient servant,
                  SAM. JOHNSON.

=20= 24. =Horne Tooke.= A name assumed by John Horne, a politician
and philologist whose career is briefly outlined in _The Century
Dictionary_. The passage which so moved him follows.

    In this work, when it shall be found that much is omitted, let
    it not be forgotten that much likewise is performed; and though
    no book was ever spared out of tenderness to the authour, and
    the world is little solicitous to know whence proceeded the
    faults of that which it condemns; yet it may gratify curiosity
    to inform it that the _English Dictionary_ was written with
    little assistance of the learned, and without any patronage
    of the great; not in the soft obscurities of retirement, or
    under the shelter of academick bowers, but amidst inconvenience
    and distraction, in sickness and in sorrow. It may repress
    the triumph of malignant criticism to observe, that if our
    language is not here fully displayed, I have only failed in an
    attempt which no human powers have hitherto completed. If the
    lexicons of ancient tongues, now immutably fixed, and comprised
    in a few volumes, be yet, after the toil of successive ages,
    inadequate and delusive; if the aggregated knowledge, and
    co-operating diligence of the _Italian_ academicians, did
    not secure them from the censure of _Beni_; if the embodied
    criticks of _France_, when fifty years had been spent upon
    their work, were obliged to change its oeconomy, and give their
    second edition another form, I may surely be contented without
    the praise of perfection, which, if I could obtain, in this
    gloom of solitude, what would it avail me? I have protracted
    my work till most of those whom I wished to please have sunk
    into the grave, and success and miscarriage are empty sounds: I
    therefore dismiss it with frigid tranquillity, having little to
    fear or hope from censure or from praise.

This extract is taken from the fourth edition, London, MDCCLXXIII,
the last to receive Johnson's corrections. If you possibly can get
the opportunity, turn these volumes over enough to find a few of the
whimsical definitions, such, for example, as that of lexicographer,
according to Johnson "a writer of dictionaries, a _harmless drudge_."
Other words worth looking up are _excise_, _oats_, and _networks_.

=21= 6. =Junius and Skinner.= Johnson frankly admitted that for
etymologies he turned to the shelf which contained the etymological
dictionaries of these seventeenth-century students of the Teutonic
languages. This phase of dictionary making was not considered so deeply
then as it is now.

=21= 13. =spunging-houses.= Johnson's _Dictionary_ says:
"Spunging-house. A house to which debtors are taken before commitment
to prison, where the bailiffs sponge upon them, or riot at their cost."

=21= 26. =Jenyns.= This writer, who, according to Boswell, "could very
happily play with a light subject," ventured so far beyond his depth
that it was easy for Johnson to expose him.

=22= 10. =Rasselas.= Had Johnson written nothing else, says Boswell,
_Rasselas_ "would have rendered his name immortal in the world of
literature.... It has been translated into most, if not all, of the
modern languages."

=22= 12. =Miss Lydia Languish.= Of course plays are not necessarily
written to be read, but Sheridan's well-known comedy, _The Rivals_, is
decidedly readable. Every one should be familiar with Miss Languish and
Mrs. Malaprop.

=23= 8. =Bruce.= The _Dictionary of National Biography_ says that
James Bruce--whose _Travels to Discover the Sources of the Nile_, five
volumes, appeared in 1790--"will always remain the poet, and his work
the epic, of African travel."

=23= 13. =Mrs. Lennox.= A woman whose literary efforts Johnson
encouraged so much as he did Mrs. Lennox's is certainly worth looking
up in the index to Boswell's _Johnson_.--=Mrs. Sheridan=, the
dramatist's mother, gave Johnson many an entertaining evening in her
home. She and her son entered heartily into the lively, stimulating
conversations he loved.

=23= 25. =Hector ... Aristotle.= The sacking of Troy is generally
assigned to the twelfth century B.C. Aristotle lived eight centuries
later.--=Julio Romano.= An Italian painter of the fifteenth century.

=24= 5. =the Lord Privy Seal.= Some documents require only the privy
seal; others must have the great seal too. For Johnson's admission that
the printer was wise in striking out the reference alluded to, see the
index to Boswell's _Johnson_, under _Gower_.

=24= 14. =Oxford.= By recalling what Macaulay said in the early part of
the essay (=10= 26, 27) about Oxford, and by bearing in mind what House
[of Stuart? of Hanover?] George the Third belonged to, one sees point
to "was becoming loyal."

=24= 14-18. Study these four short sentences in connection with the
preceding sentence beginning "George the Third." To what extent are
they a repetition? To what extent an explanation?

=24= 22. =accepted.= When, in answer to Johnson's question to Lord
Bute, "Pray, my Lord, what am I expected to do for this pension?" he
received the ready reply, "It is not given you for anything you are to
do, but for what you have done," he hesitated no longer.

Three hundred a year was a large sum in Johnson's eyes at that time.
Whether he wrote less than he would have written without it may be
questioned, says Mr. Hill, but he adds that probably "without the
pension he would not have lived to write the second greatest of his
works--the _Lives of the Poets_."

=25= 19. =a ghost ... Cock Lane.= If you will read Boswell's account of
the affair, you will probably conclude that Johnson was not quite so
"weak" as Macaulay implies.

=25= 26. =Churchill.= One of the reigning wits of the day, Boswell says.

=26= 3. =The preface.= Other critics speak with more enthusiasm of the
good sense and the clear expression of the preface, and find that these
qualities are not altogether lacking in the notes.

=26= 8. =Wilhelm Meister.= The hero of Goethe's novel of the same name.
You may have read this passage on _Hamlet_ in Rolfe's edition (p. 14),
quoted from Furness's _Hamlet_, Vol. II, pp. 272 ff. Sprague also
quotes it in his edition, p. 13.

=26= 26. =Ben.= The eighteenth-century Johnson has been followed by
the nineteenth-century critics in putting a high estimate on the Jonson
who wrote _Every Man in His Humor_. We are told that Shakspere took
one of the parts in this play, acted in 1598. If you are not satisfied
with the account in _The Century Dictionary_, or with any encyclopædia
article, see _The English Poets_, edited by T. H. Ward, Vol. II (The
Macmillan Company).

=26= 33-34. =Æschylus, Euripides, Sophocles.= Three great contemporary
Greek tragedians.

=27= 3. =Fletcher.= Point out why an editor of Shakspere's plays should
be familiar with the work of this group of Elizabethan dramatists.

=27= 11. =Royal Academy.= "His Majesty having the preceding year [1768]
instituted the Royal Academy of Arts in London, Johnson had won the
honour of being appointed Professor in Ancient Literature."--Boswell.
Goldsmith was Professor in Ancient History in the same institution, and
Boswell was Secretary for Foreign Correspondence. Look in _The Century
Dictionary_ under _academy_, the third meaning, and recall whatever you
may have heard or read about the French Academy.

=27= 12. =the King.= "His Majesty expressed a desire to have the
literary biography of this country ably executed, and proposed to Dr.
Johnson to undertake it."--Boswell. Read Boswell's account of the
interview. In consulting the index look under _George III._

=27= 22. =colloquial talents.= Madame d'Arblay once said that Johnson
had about him more "fun, and comical humour, and love of nonsense" than
almost anybody else she ever saw.

=28= 23. =Goldsmith.= Macaulay's article on Goldsmith in _The
Encyclopædia Britannica_ is short, and so thoroughly readable that
there is no excuse for not being familiar with it. Boswell is
continually giving interesting glimpses of Dr. Oliver Goldsmith, and
by taking advantage of the index in the _Life of Johnson_ one may in
half an hour learn a great deal about this remarkable man. According
to Boswell, "he had sagacity enough to cultivate assiduously the
acquaintance of Johnson, and his faculties were gradually enlarged by
the contemplation of such a model."

=28= 24. =Reynolds.= We can learn from short articles about Sir
Joshua's career, but the index to Boswell's _Johnson_ will introduce
us to the good times the great portrait painter had with the great
conversationalist whom we are studying. Reynolds was the first proposer
of the Club, and "there seems to have been hardly a day," says Robina
Napier, "when these friends did not meet in the painting room or in
general society." Ruskin says, "Titian paints nobler pictures and
Vandyke had nobler subjects, but neither of them entered so subtly as
Sir Joshua did into the minor varieties of human heart and temper."
The business of his art "was not to criticise, but to observe," and
for this purpose the hours he spent at the Club might be as profitable
as those spent in his painting room. It will be interesting to make a
list of some of the most notable "subjects" Reynolds painted.--=Burke.=
Be sure to read Boswell's account of the famous Round Robin. It
will make you feel better acquainted with Burke, Johnson, Reynolds,
and Goldsmith. The student will find valuable material in Professor
Lamont's edition of Burke's _Speech on Conciliation with America_,
published by Ginn & Company.

=28= 25. =Gibbon.= You noticed on the _Round Robin_ the autograph of
the author of _The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire_?

=28= 26. =Jones.= Sir William Henry Rich Jones was "the first English
scholar to master Sanskrit, and to recognize its importance for
comparative philology," says _The Century Dictionary_.

=29= 9. =Johnson's Club.= The Club still flourishes. Both Scott and
Macaulay belonged to it.

=29= 14. =James Boswell.= "Out of the fifteen millions that then lived,
and had bed and board, in the British Islands, this man has provided us
a greater _pleasure_ than any other individual, at whose cost we now
enjoy ourselves; perhaps has done us a greater _service_ than can be
specially attributed to more than two or three: yet, ungrateful that
we are, no written or spoken eulogy of James Boswell anywhere exists;
his recompense in solid pudding (so far as copyright went) was not
excessive; and as for the empty praise, it has altogether been denied
him. Men are unwiser than children; they do not know the hand that

So Carlyle writes of the man; the book, he says, is "beyond any other
product of the eighteenth century"; it draws aside the curtains of the
Past and gives us a picture which changeful Time cannot harm or hide.
The picture charms generation after generation because it is true. "It
is not speaking with exaggeration, but with strict measured sobriety,
to say that this Book of Boswell's will give us more real insight into
the _History of England_ during those days than twenty other Books,
falsely entitled 'Histories,' which take to themselves that special
aim.... The thing I want to see is not Redbook Lists, and Court
Calendars, and Parliamentary Registers, but the LIFE OF MAN in England:
what men did, thought, suffered, enjoyed; the form, especially the
spirit, of their terrestrial existence, its outward environment, its
inward principle; _how_ and _what_ it was; whence it proceeded, whither
it was tending....

"Hence, indeed, comes it that History, which should be 'the essence of
innumerable Biographies,' will tell us, question it as we like, less
than one genuine Biography may do, pleasantly and of its own accord!"

Mr. Leslie Stephen says that "Macaulay's graphic description of
his absurdities, and Carlyle's more penetrating appreciation of his
higher qualities, contain all that can be said"; but the more recent
testimony of Dr. George B. Hill, in _Dr. Johnson, His Friends and His
Critics_, should count for something. Dr. Hill points out that while
Macaulay grants Boswell immortality he refuses him greatness, and calls
attention to what he considers elements of greatness. In regard to the
accuracy of a biographer who would "run half over London, in order to
fix a date correctly," he says: "That love, I might almost say that
passion for accuracy, that distinguished Boswell in so high a degree
does not belong to a mind that is either mean or feeble. Mean minds are
indifferent to truth, and feeble minds can see no importance in a date."

=29= 27. =Wilkes.= John Wilkes, a notorious politician, was imprisoned
for writing an article in which he attacked George the Third. The
liberty of the press was involved and Wilkes was released, much to
the delight of the people. For a brief summary of the Bill of Rights,
see Brewer's _Historic Note-book_ or _A Handbook of English Political
History_, by Acland and Ransome.

=29= 29. =Whitfield.= Macaulay's short sentence implies, does it not,
that Whitfield (or Whitefield) was a noisy, open-air preacher among the
Calvinistic Methodists? In testing the accuracy of this inference in
_The Encyclopædia Britannica_ or in Franklin's _Autobiography_, note in
what countries Whitefield preached, and where he died. Boswell quotes
Johnson's opinion of Whitefield in two places.

=29= 30. =In a happy hour.= May 16, 1763. By all means read Boswell's
account of the rough reception he received and the persistence
necessary to secure the fastening.

=31= 14. =pity ... esteem.= The Thrales were not alone in overlooking
these oddities. "His tricks and contortions, a subject for pity not
ridicule," says Mr. Hoste, "were ignored by the celebrated wits and
beauties who visited him in his gloomy 'den,' and by the duchesses and
other distinguished ladies who gathered 'four and five deep' around him
at fashionable assemblies, hanging on his sentences, and contended for
the nearest places to his chair."

=31= 15. =Southwark.= South of the commercial center of London and
across the Thames.

=31= 16. =Streatham.= About five miles southwest of London City.
The Southwark apartment was in a commercial district; the Streatham
apartment in a thinly settled residential suburb.

=31= 34. =Maccaroni.= See _The Century Dictionary_ or Brewer's
_Handbook of Phrase and Fable_.

=32= 21. =Levett.= Of Levett, Goldsmith said to Boswell, "He is poor
and honest, which is recommendation enough to Johnson."

=32= 30. =the Mitre Tavern.= "The Mitre Tavern still stands in Fleet
Street: but where now is its Scot-and-lot paying, beef-and-ale
loving, cock-hatted, potbellied Landlord; its rosy-faced, assiduous
Landlady, with all her shining brass-pans, waxed tables, well-filled
larder-shelves; her cooks, and bootjacks, and errand-boys, and
watery-mouthed hangers-on? Gone! Gone! The becking waiter, that with
wreathed smiles was wont to spread for Samuel and Bozzy their 'supper
of the gods,' has long since pocketed his last sixpence; and vanished,
six-pences and all, like a ghost at cockcrowing." Yet, Carlyle goes on
to say, thanks to this book of Boswell's, "they who are gone are still
here; though hidden they are revealed, though dead they yet speak."

=33= 27. =Hebrides.= Locate these picturesque islands on the map.

=34= 10. =Lord Mansfield.= William Murray, chief justice of the King's
Bench from 1756 to 1788, has been called "the founder of English
commercial law."

=34= 23. =Macpherson.= In 1760 James Macpherson published what
purported to be fragments of Gaelic verse with translations. These
were so interesting that he was sent to the Highlands to hunt for
more, and within three years he published the _Poems of Ossian_,
consisting of two epics, "Fingal" and "Temora." Their genuineness has
been discussed ever since. Evidently Johnson settled the matter to his
own satisfaction and to Macaulay's, and you may be interested in what
Boswell has to say. At the same time it seems clear that Johnson went
too far in his charge of forgery. Macpherson probably did not find a
complete epic, yet he undoubtedly found some Gaelic poetry.

=34= 27. =contemptuous terms.= Boswell gives the following letter:


    I received your foolish and impudent letter. Any violence
    offered me I shall do my best to repel; and what I cannot do
    for myself, the law shall do for me. I hope I shall not be
    deterred from detecting what I think a cheat, by the menaces of
    a ruffian.

    What would you have me retract? I thought your book an
    imposture; I think it an imposture still. For this opinion I
    have given my reasons to the publick, which I here dare you to
    refute. Your rage I defy. Your abilities, since your Homer, are
    not so formidable; and what I hear of your morals, inclines me
    to pay regard not to what you shall say, but to what you shall
    prove. You may print this if you will.

        SAM. JOHNSON.

=35= 11-12. =The Kenricks, Campbells, MacNicols, and Hendersons.= If
Johnson and Macaulay do not tell enough about these men, Boswell does.

=35= 30. =Bentley.= Richard Bentley (1662-1742), a well-known English
classical scholar and critic.

=36= 13. =Taxation no Tyranny.= The rest of the title is _An Answer to
the Resolutions and Address of the American Congress_.

=37= 6. =Wilson.= Richard Wilson was one of the greatest English
landscape painters, says _The Dictionary of National Biography_.

=37= 14. =Cowley.= The man who wrote

God the first garden made, and the first city Cain.

=37= 18. =Restoration.= The _International Dictionary_ offers a brief
explanation in case you are not absolutely certain of the exact meaning.

=37= 23. =Walmesley.= See note to =5= 32.--=Button's.= Button's
coffeehouse flourished earlier in the century. Do you remember any
other reference to it? to Will's? to Child's?--=Cibber.= Colley Cibber,
actor and dramatist, altered and adapted some of Shakspere's plays.
Both Johnson and Boswell express their opinions of him frankly enough.
He was appointed poet laureate in 1730.

=37= 25. =Orrery.= Orrery did more than enjoy this privilege,--he wrote
a book entitled _Remarks on the Life and Writings of Jonathan Swift_.
Boswell records Johnson's opinion of it. What other great literary men
enjoyed the society of Swift? _The Century Dictionary_ gives a column
to Swift, and Johnson has a sketch in his _Lives of the Poets_.

=37= 26. =services of no very honourable kind.= By supplying Pope with
private intelligence for his _Dunciad_ he "gained the esteem of Pope
and the enmity of his victims."

=38= 32. =Malone.= Edmund Malone was a friend of Johnson, Burke, and
Reynolds. He wrote a supplement to Johnson's edition of Shakspere,
published an edition of Reynolds's works, and after bringing out his
own edition of Shakspere, left material for another edition, which was
published by James Boswell the younger in 1821. Boswell's _Malone_, the
"third variorum" edition, is generally considered the best. To Boswell
the elder, an intimate friend, he was of much assistance in preparing
the _Life of Johnson_, and he edited with valuable notes the third,
fourth, fifth, and sixth reissues of the work.

=40= 21-22. =In a solemn and tender prayer.=

    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, O 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.--Boswell's _Johnson_.

=41= 1. =Italian fiddler.= A violinist of much talent. Piozzi was
the music master from Brescia who, a little over three years after
Mr. Thrale's death, married the widow. After learning what you can
from Boswell, you will enjoy some such account as the _Encyclopædia
Britannica_ offers. While doing your reading it may be well to keep in
mind what two or three critics have said. Mr. Mowbray Morris writes:
"After all the abuse showered on the unfortunate woman it is pleasant
to know that the marriage proved a happy one in every respect. Piozzi,
who was really a well-mannered, amiable man, took every care of his
wife's fortune, and on their return to England her family and friends
were soon reconciled to him." Mr. Leslie Stephen says: "Her love of
Piozzi, which was both warm and permanent, is the most amiable feature
of her character." Mr. Herbert Paul, after praising Macaulay's _Life of
Johnson_, adds, "Yet, if I may say so, I can never forgive Macaulay for
his cruel and unaccountable injustice to Mrs. Thrale."

=41= 3. =the Ephesian matron.= She cared so much for her husband that
she went into the vault to die with him, and there, in the midst of
her violent grief, fell in love with a soldier who was guarding some
dead bodies near by. For the story (told by a Latin writer, Petronius),
see Jeremy Taylor's _The Rule and Exercises of Holy Dying_, Chapter V,
section 8.--=the two pictures.= In Act III.

=42= 2. =Burke parted from him.= After twenty-seven years of
uninterrupted friendship with Johnson, says Robina Napier.--=Windham.=
The Right Hon. William Windham, a member of the Club, a friend of
Malone, Burke, Fox, and Pitt; in 1794 Secretary at War (Pitt's
ministry), in 1806 War and Colonial Secretary (Lord Grenville's
ministry); in the words of Macaulay, "the first gentleman of his age,
the ingenious, the chivalrous, the high-souled Windham." Johnson wrote
him appreciative letters in August and October, 1784. See Boswell.

=42= 4. =Frances Burney.= In Macaulay's essay on Madame d'Arblay, he
says: "Her appearance is an important epoch in our literary history.
Evelina was the first tale written by a woman, and purporting to be a
picture of life and manners, that lived or deserved to live." Read this
account of the "timid and obscure girl" who suddenly "found herself on
the highest pinnacle of fame," eulogized by such men as Burke, Windham,
Gibbon, Reynolds, and Sheridan.

=42= 6. =Langton.= See page 30.

=42= 10-11. =his temper.= In connection with this closing sentence let
us remember a paragraph from Boswell (1776):

"That he was occasionally remarkable for violence of temper may be
granted: but let us ascertain the degree, and not let it be supposed
that he was in a perpetual rage, and never without a club in his hand
to knock down every one who approached him. On the contrary, the truth
is, that by much the greatest part of his time he was civil, obliging,
nay, polite in the true sense of the word; so much so, that many
gentlemen who were long acquainted with him never received, or even
heard a strong expression from him."


[1] Trevelyan, _Life and Letters_, I, 41.

[2] Trevelyan, I, 47.

[3] The entire letter is interesting. See Trevelyan, I, 56. The letters
of this period are particularly attractive.

[4] _Ibid._ I, 91.

[5] Trevelyan, I, 102. The letters from college are well worth reading.

[6] Trevelyan, I, 136.

[7] _Ibid._, 179.

[8] Trevelyan, I, 249-253.

[9] Trevelyan, I, 368.

[10] _Ibid._, II, 68.

[11] Trevelyan, II, 89.

[12] _Carlyle's Essay on Burns_, p. 5, Ginn's edition.

[13] Trevelyan, II. 96.

[14] For Trevelyan's evidence, see II, 191.

[15] Trevelyan, II, 244.

[16] _Ibid._, 321.

[17] Trevelyan, II, 15.

[18] _The Quarterly Review_, July, 1876.

[19] It is proper to observe that this passage bears a very close
resemblance to a passage in the Rambler (No. 20). The resemblance may
possibly be the effect of unconscious plagiarism.--_Macaulay._

Transcriber's Notes:

Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant
preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected.

To preserve line numbers on pages 1-75, each line on those pages is
shown here as it appeared in the original book, with two exceptions: to
make the text searchable, words originally split across two lines have
been made whole by moving them to one or the other of those lines; and
a few words have been moved to adjacent lines so they would not extend
into the area reserved for line numbers.

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