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who appeared to give great attention, and, when the alderman had Mrs. ceased speaking, replied, 'You are perfectly right, sir; I would let Rose. the rogues die of thirst, for I hate a Docker from my heart.' The old man went away quite delighted, and told all his acquaintances how completely the great Dr. Johnson was on his side of the question.'
"It was after the publication of the Lives of the Poets that Dr. Farr, being engaged to dine with Sir Joshua Reynolds, mentioned, on coming in, that, in his way, he had seen a caricature, which he thought clever, of the nine muses flogging Dr. Johnson round Parnassus. The admirers of Gray and others, who thought their favourites hardly treated in the Lives, were laughing at Dr. Farr's account of the print, when Dr. Johnson was himself announced: Dr. Farr being the only stranger, Sir Joshua introduced him, and, to Farr's infinite embarrassment, repeated what he had just been telling them. Johnson was not at all surly on the occasion, but said, turning to Dr. Farr, Sir, I am very glad to hear this. I hope the day will never arrive when I shall neither be the object of calumny or ridicule, for then I shall be neglected and forgotten'.'
"It was near the close of his life that two young ladies, who were warm admirers of his works, but had never seen himself, went to Bolt-court, and, asking if he was at home, were shown up stairs, where he was writing. He laid down his pen on their entrance, and, as they stood before him, one of the females repeated a speech of some length, previously prepared for the occasion. It was an enthusiastic effusion, which, when the speaker had finished, she panted for her idol's reply. What was her mortification when all he said was 'Fiddle-de-dee, my dear.'
"Much pains were taken by Mr. Hayley's friends to prevail on Dr. Johnson to read The Triumphs of Temper,' when it was in its zenith; at last he consented, but never got beyond the two first pages, of which he uttered a few words of contempt that I have now forgotten. They were, however, carried to the author, who revenged himself by pourtraying Johnson as Rumble in his comedy of The Mausoleum,' and subsequently he published, without his name, a 'Dialogue in the Shades between Lord Chesterfield and Dr. Johnson,' more distinguished for malignity than wit. Being anonymous, and possessing very little merit, it fell still-born from the press 2.
[This was his usual declaration on all such occasions. If Johnson had been an amateur author, abuse and even criticism would no doubt have given him pain, but, to an author by profession, and one who, for so many years, had lived by his pen, the greatest misfortune would be neglect; for his daily bread depended on the sensation his works might create (see ante, vol. iv. p. 244). This observation will be found applicable to many other cases.-ED.]
2 [See ante, vol. v. p. 240, where it will be seen that, besides the character of Rumble and the Dead Dialogue, Hayley vented his spleen in a correspondence with Miss Seward,
"Dr. Johnson sent his Life of Lord Lyttleton' in MSS. to Mrs. Montague, who was much dissatisfied with it, and thought her friend every way underrated, but the Doctor made no alteration. When he subsequently made one of a party at Mrs. Montague's, he addressed his hostess two or three times after dinner, with a view to engage her in conversation: receiving only cold and brief answers, he said, in a low voice, to General Paoli, who sat next him, and who told me the story, 'You see, sir, I am no longer the man for Mrs. Montague.' "Mrs. Piozzi related to me, that when Dr. Johnson one day observed, that poets in general preferred some one couplet they had written to any other, she replied, that she did not suppose he had a favourite; he told her she was mistaken-he thought his best lines
'The encumber'd oar scarce leaves the hostile coast,
“Dr. Johnson, in his conversation with Dr. Parr, repeatedly and earnestly avowed his opinion, that accents ought not to be omitted by any editor of Greek authors, or any modern writers of Greek verse, or Greek prose.
"Johnson said Graywalked on tiptoe.' The same thought is in Quintilian and in Seneca, quo quisque ingenio minus valet, hoc se magis attolere et dilitare conatur: ut statura breves in digitos eriguntur, et plura infirmi mirantur.'-Quintilian, by Rollin, Lib. ii. cap. 3. Seneca also says, 'in edito stat admirabilis, celsus, magnitudinis veræ. Non exsurgit in plantas, nec summis ambulat digitis, eorum more, qui mendacio staturam adjuvant, longioresque quam sunt, videri volunt: contentus est magnitudine suâ.'—Epist. iii.
'A wit among lords and a lord among wits,' said Johnson of Lord Chesterfield. 'Sed tam contumeliosos in se ridet invicem eloquentia : et qui stultis eruditi videri volunt, stulti eruditis videntur.'—Quintilian, by Rollin, pa. 409, Lib. x. cap. vii. See also Pope's Dunciad: 'A wit with dunces, and a dunce with wits.'"'
"Mr. Barclay3, from his connexion with Mr. Thrale, had several opportunities of meeting and conversing with Dr. Johnson. On his becoming a partner in the brewery, Johnson advised him not to allow his commercial pursuits to divert his attention from his studies. 'A
which that lady, or some of her confidants, chose to publish, and which, instead of affecting the reputation of Dr. Johnson, only cover the names of the two writers with indelible ridicule.-ED.]
[These lines are in the Vanity of Human Wishes, line 192.-ED.]
2 [These three anecdotes, or rather memoranda of Dr. Parr's, were communicated by his biographer, Dr. Johnstone, of Birmingham.-ED.]
3 [The late Robert Barclay, Esq. of Bury Hill, near Dorking. This benevolent and excellent man (from whom Mr. Markland derived these memoranda in 1824) died in 1831, at an advanced age.-ED.]
mere literary man,' said the Doctor, 'is a dull man; a man, who is Mr. Barsolely a man of business, is a selfish man; but when literature and clay. commerce are united, they make a respectable man.'
"Mr. Barclay saw Johnson ten days before he died, when the latter observed, That they should never meet more. Have you any
objection to receive an old man's blessing?' Mr. Barclay knelt down, and Johnson gave him his blessing with great fervency.
"Mr. Barclay had never observed any rudeness or violence on the part of Johnson.
"He has seen Boswell lay down his knife and fork, and take out his tablets, in order to register a good anecdote.
"When Johnson proceeded to the dining-room, one of Mr. Thrale's servants handed him a wig of a smarter description than the one he wore in the morning; the exchange took place in the hall, or passage. Johnson, like many other men, was always in much better humour after dinner than before 1."
"With all that asperity of manners with which he has been charged, Sir J. and which kept at a distance many who, to my knowledge, would Hawk. have been glad of an intimacy with him, he possessed the affections of pity and compassion in a most eminent degree. In a mixed company, of which I was one, the conversation turned on the pestilence which raged in London in the year 1665, and gave occasion to Johnson to speak of Dr. Nathaniel Hodges, who, in the height of that calamity, continued in the city, and was almost the only one of his profession that had the courage to oppose the endeavours of his art to the spreading of the contagion. It was the hard fate of this person, a short time after, to die a prisoner for debt in Ludgate. Johnson related this circumstance to us, with the tears ready to start from his eyes, and with great energy said, ‘Such a man would not have been suffered to perish in these times.''
"On Johnson's death, Mr. Langton said to Sir John Hawkins, Miss 'We shall now know whether he has or has not assisted Sir Joshua Hawk. Mem. in his Discourses;' but Johnson had assured Sir John that his as- vol. sistance had never exceeded the substitution of a word or two, in p. 333. preference to what Sir Joshua had written.
"What the economy of Dr. Johnson's house may have been under vol. ii. his wife's administration I cannot tell, but under Miss Williams's P. 208. management, and, indeed, afterwards, when he was overcome at the misery of those around him, it always deceived my expectation, as far as the condition of the apartment into which I was admitted could enable me to judge. It was not, indeed, his study; amongst
1 [See ante, v. iv. p. 184.-ED.]
his books he probably might bring Magliabeechi to recollection, but I saw him only in the decent drawing-room of a house, not inferior to others on the same local situation, and with stout old-fashioned mahogany table and chairs. He was a liberal customer to his tailor, and I can remember that his linen was often a strong contrast to the colour of his hands.
"It may be said of Johnson, that he had a peculiar feeling of regard towards his many and various friends, and that he was to each what might be called the indenture, or counter-part of what they were to him."
"Dr. Johnson1 confessed himself to have been sometimes in the power of bailiffs. Richardson, the author of Clarissa, was his constant friend on such occasions. 'I remember writing to him,' said Johnson, from a sponging house; and was so sure of my deliverance through his kindness and liberality, that, before his reply was brought, I knew I could afford to joke with the rascal who had me in custody, and did so, over a pint of adulterated wine, for which, at that instant, I had no money to pay.'
"It has been observed that Johnson had lost the sight of one of his eyes. Mr. Ellis, an ancient gentleman now living (author of a very happy burlesque translation of the thirteenth book added to the Æneid by Maffée Vegio) was in the same condition; but, some years after, while he was at Margate, the sight of his eye unexpectedly returned, and that of its fellow became as suddenly extinguished. Concerning the particulars of this singular but authenticated event, Dr. Johnson was studiously inquisitive, and not with reference to his own case. Though he never made use of glasses to assist his sight, he said he could recollect no production of art to which man has superior obligations. He mentioned the name of the original inventor of spectacles with reverence, and expressed his wonder that not an individual, out of the multitudes who had profited by them, had, through gratitude, written the life of so great a benefactor to society.
"The doctor is known to have been, like Savage, a very late visiter; yet at whatever hour he returned, he never went to bed without a previous call on Mrs. Williams, the blind lady who for so many
' [The following anecdotes, published by Mr. Steevens, from day to day in the St. James's Chronicle, and afterwards collected in the London Magazine, escaped the editor's notice, till it was too late to introduce them into the text; but as they tell some new facts, and relate others that have been already told in a new manner, it has been thought right to preserve them. The first of these anecdotes confirms the justice which the editor had already endeavoured to do to the memory of Richardson against the sneer of Murphy. Ante, v. i. p. 290, n.—ED.]
2 The inventor of spectacles is said to have been a monk at Pisa, who lived at the end of the thirteenth century, and whose name was Spina.-ED. of Lond. Mag.
As I turned into vol. lv. 'You forget, my p. 254.
years had found protection under his roof. Coming home one Steevens morning between four and five, he said to her, 'Take notice, madam, that for once I am here before others are asleep. the court, I ran against a knot of bricklayers.' dear sir,' replied she, that these people have all been a-bed, and are now preparing for their day's work.' 'Is it so, then, madam? I confess that circumstance had escaped me.'
I have been told, Dr. Johnson,' says a friend, that your translation of Pope's Messiah was made either as a common exercise or as an imposition for some negligence you had been guilty of at college.' 'No, sir,' replied the doctor. At Pembroke the former were always in prose, and to the latter I would not have submitted. I wrote it rather to show the tutors what I could do, than what I was willing should be done. It answered my purpose; for it convinced those who were well enough inclined to punish me, that I could wield a scholar's weapon, as often as I was menaced with arbitrary inflictions. Before the frequency of personal satire had weakened its effect, the petty tyrants of colleges stood in awe of a pointed remark, or a vindictive epigram. But since every man in his turn has been wounded, no man is ashamed of a scar.'
"When Dr. Percy first published his collection of ancient English ballads, perhaps he was too lavish in commendation of the beautiful simplicity and poetic merit he supposed himself to discover in them. This circumstance provoked Johnson to observe one evening at Miss Reynolds's tea-table, that he could rhyme as well, and as elegantly, in common narrative and conversation. For instance, says he,
As with my hat upon my head
I walk'd along the Strand,
I there did meet another man
With his hat in his hand.
'Or, to render such poetry subservient to my own immediate use,
'I therefore pray thee, Renny dear,
That thou will give to me,
With cream and sugar soften'd well,
Nor fear that I, my gentle maid,
Shall long detain the cup,
Have drank the liquor up
1 [See ante, v. iv. p. 137, where this anecdote is told in the vague manner and on the imperfect authority of Mr. Cradock. To have deliberately composed and circulated a parody on his friend's poem would have been a very different thing from a sportive improvisation over the tea-table.-ED.]