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“ I know,” said he, “ Harte was your lordship's tutor, and he was also tutor to the Peterborough family. Pray, my lord, do you recollect any particulars that he told you of Lord Peterborough? He is a favourite of mine', and is not enough known; his character has been only ventilated in party pamphlets.” Lord Eliot said, if Dr. Johnson would be so good as to ask him any questions, he would tell what he could recollect. Accordingly some things were mentioned.
“But," said his lordship, “ the best account of Lord Peterborough that I have happened to meet with is in * Captain Carleton's Memoirs.' Carleton was descended of an ancestor who had distinguished himself at the siege of Derry. He was an officer; and, what was rare at that time, had some knowledge of engineering.” Johnson said, he had never heard of the book. Lord Eliot had it at Port Eliot; but, after a good deal of inquiry, procured a copy in London ́, and sent it to Johnson, who told Sir Joshua Reynolds that he was going to bed when it came, but was so much pleased with it, that he sat up till he had read it through, and found in it such an air of truth, that he could not doubt of its authenticity; adding, with a smile (in allusion to Lord Eliot's having recently been raised to the peerage), “I did not think a young lord could have mentioned to me a book in the English history that was not known to me.”
An addition to our company came after we went up to the drawing-room; Dr. Johnson seemed to rise in spirits as his audience increased. He said, he wished Lord Orford's pictures and Sir Ashton Lever's museum 4 might be purchased by the publick,
(See ante, vol. iv. p. 418, his observation on Pope's noble friends. -Ed.] ? [Carleton's very amusing Memoirs were republished in 1808, in an 8vo. volume.Ed.]
3 [The fine Houghton collection, which was sold to the Empress of Russia. _ED.] 4 [Sir Ashton Lever was knighted by George the Third. He died in 1788.
because both the money, and the pictures, and the curiosities would remain in the country; whereas if they were sold into another kingdom, the nation would indeed get some money, but would lose the pictures and curiosities, which it would be desirable we should have for improvement in taste and natural history. The only question was, as the nation was much in want of money, whether it would not be better to take a large price from a foreign state ?
He entered upon a curious discussion of the difference between intuition and sagacity; one being immediate in its effect, the other requiring a circuitous process; one, he observed, was the eye of the mind, the other the nose of the mind'.
A young gentleman' present took up the argument against him, and maintained that no man ever thinks of the nose of the mind, not adverting that though that figurative sense seems strange to us, as very unusual, it is truly not more forced than Hamlet's “In my mind's eye, Horatio.” He persisted much too long, and appeared to Johnson as putting himself forward as his antagonist with too much presumption: upon which he called to him in a loud tone, “ What is it you are contending for, if you be contending ?” -And afterwards imagining that the gentleman retorted upon him with a kind of smart drollery, he said, “ Mr. *****, it does not become you to talk so to me. Besides, ridicule is not your talent; you have there neither intuition nor sagacity.”—The gentle
His celebrated museum (valued before a committee of the house of commons at 53,0001.) was disposed of, in 1784, by a private lottery, to Mr. Parkinson, who removed'it to Albion-place. Blackfriars-bridge, where it was for many years open as an exhibition. The several articles of which it was composed were afterwards sold separately by auction.--Ed.]
· [These illustrations were probably suggested by the radical meaning of the words, the first of which, in Latin, properly belongs to sight, and the latter to smell.-Ed.]
? (The epithet “ young' was added after the two first editions, and the ***** substituted instead of a dash which lead to a suspicion that young Mr. Burke was meant.ED.]
man protested that he had intended no improper freedom, but had the greatest respect for Dr. Johnson. After a short pause, during which we were somewhat uneasy ;-JOHNSON. “Give me your hand, sir. You were too tedious, and I was too short.” Mr. *****.
Sir, I am honoured by your attention in any way." Johxson. “Come, sir, let's have no more of it. We offended one another by our contention; let us not offend the company by our compliments.”
He now said, he wished much to go to Italy, and that he dreaded passing the winter in England, I said nothing; but enjoyed a secret satisfaction in thinking that I had taken the most effectual measures to make such a scheme practicable.
On Monday, June 28, I had the honour to receive from the Lord Chancellor the following letter:
66 TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ. “SIR,-I should have answered your letter immediately, if (being much engaged when I received it) I had not put it in my pocket, and forgot to open it till this morning.
“I am much obliged to you for the suggestion; and I will adopt and press it as far as I can. The best argument, I am sure, and I hope it is not likely to fail, is Dr. Johnson's merit. But it will be necessary, if I should be so unfortunate as to miss seeing you, to converse with Sir Joshua on the sum it will be proper to ask,-in short, upon the means of setting him out. It would be a reflection on us all if such a man should perish for want of the means to take care of his health. Yours, &c.
This letter gave me very high satisfaction; I next day went and showed it to Sir Joshua Reynolds, who was exceedingly pleased with it. He thought that I should now communicate the negotiation to Dr. Johnson, who might afterwards complain if the attention with which he had been honoured should be too long concealed from him. I intended to set out for Scotland next morning; but Sir Joshua cordially insisted that I should stay another day, that Johnson and I might dine with him, that we three might talk of his Italian tour, and, as Sir Joshua expressed himself, “have it all out." I hastened to Johnson, and was told by him that he was rather better to-day. BOSWELL. “I am very anxious about you, sir, and particularly that you should go to Italy for the winter, which I believe is your own wish.” JOHNSON. “It is, sir.” BOSWELL. “You have no objection, I presume, but the money it would require.” JOHNSON. “Why, no, sir.” Upon which I gave him a particular account of what had been done, and read to him the Lord Chancellor's letter. He listened with much attention; then warmly said, “ This is taking prodigious pains about a man.” “O, sir,” said I, with most sincere affection, “your friends would do every thing for you.” He paused, -grew more and more agitated,- till tears started into his eyes, and he exclaimed with fervent emotion, “God bless you all!" I was so affected that I also shed tears. After a short silence, he renewed and extended his grateful benediction, “God bless you all, for JESUS CHRIST's sake.” We both remained for some time unable to speak. He rose suddenly and quitted the room, quite melted in tenderness. He staid but a short time, till he had recovered his firmness; soon after he returned I left him, having first engaged him to dine at Sir Joshua Reynolds's next day. I never was again under that roof which I had so long reverenced.
On Wednesday, June 30, the friendly confidential dinner with Sir Joshua Reynolds took place, no other company being present. Had I known that this was the last time that I should enjoy in this world the conversation of a friend whom I so much respected, and from whom I derived so much instruction and entertainment, I should have been deeply affected. When I now look back to it, I am vexed that a single word should have been forgotten.
Both Sir Joshua and I were so sanguine in our expectations, that we expatiated with confidence on the liberal provision which we were sure would be made for him, conjecturing whether munificence would be displayed in one large donation, or in an ample increase of his pension. He himself catched so much of our enthusiasm as to allow himself to suppose it not impossible that our hopes might in one way or other be realized. He said that he would rather have his pension doubled than a grant of a thousand pounds; “ For," said he, “ though probably I may not live to receive as much as a thousand pounds, a man would have the consciousness that he should pass the remainder of his life in splendour, how long soever it might be.” Considering what a moderate proportion an income of six hundred pounds a-year bears to innumerable fortunes in this country, it is worthy of remark, that a man so truly great should think it splendour.
As an instance of extraordinary liberality of friendship, he told us that Dr. Brocklesby had upon this occasion offered him a hundred a-year for his life '. A grateful tear started into his eye, as he spoke this in a faltering tone.
[It should be recollected that the amiable and accomplished man who made this generous offer to the tory champion was a keen whig; and it is stated in the Biographical Dictionary, that he pressed Johnson in his last illness to remove to his house for the more immediate convenience of medical advice. Dr. Brocklesby died in 1797, æt. 76. He was a very intimate friend of the cele. brated Charles Townshend, as well as of Mr. Burke, to whom he had bequeathed 10001. in his will ; but recollecting that he might outlive his friend, or that the legacy might fall when Mr. Burke did not want it, he requested him to accept it from his living hand, “ ut pignus amicitiæ.” Doctor Brocklesby's name was the subject of one of Mr. Burke's playful puns. There was, cotemporary with him, in London, a low quack who called himself Doctor Rock. One day Mr. Burke called Brocklesby Doctor Rock, and on his taking some offence at this disreputable appellation, Burke undertook to prove algebraically that Rock was his proper name, thus, “ Brock - b=Rock,” or “ Brock less b, makes Rock." Q. E. D.ED.)