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“ 16th August, 1780. “ I expected to have found a Life of Lord Lyttelton prefixed to his Mag. works. Is there not one before the quarto edition? I think there is ; if not, I am, with respect to him, quite aground."
• Brighthelmstone, 26th Oct. 1780. “I think you never need send back the revises unless something important occurs. Little things, if I omit them, you will do me the favour of setting right yourself. Our post is awkward, as you will find, and I fancy you will find it best to send two sheets at once.”
“ 16th April, 1781. “ Mr. Johnson desires Mr. Nichols to send him a set of the last Lives, and would be glad to know how the octavo edition goes forward.”
“ 10th June, 1781. My desire being to complete the sets of Lives which I have formerly presented to my friends, I have occasion for a few of the first volumes; of which, by some misapprehension, I have received a great number, which I desire to exchange for the latter volumes. I wish success to the new edition. Please to deliver to Mr. Steevens a complete set of the Lives in 12mo.”
“ 26th December, 1781. “ Mr. Johnson, being much out of order, sent in search of the book, but it is not found. He will, if he is better, look himself diligently to-morrow. He thanks Mr. Nichols for all his favours.”
“ 28th October, 1782. “What will the booksellers give me for this new edition ? I know not what to ask. I would have twenty-four sets bound in plain calf, and figured with the number of the volumes. For the rest, they may please themselves.”
UNPUBLISHED Prayers by Dr. Johnson.
“ Easter day, 15th April, 1759. Pearson “ ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father, look down with pity upon
MSS. my sins. I am a sinner, good Lord; but let not my sins burthen me for ever. Give me thy grace to break the chain of evil custom. Enable me to shake off idleness and sloth : to will and to do what thou hast commanded, grant me chaste in thoughts, words and actions ; to love and frequent thy worship, to study and understand thy word; to be diligent in my calling, that I may support myself and relieve others.
Forgive me, O Lord, whatever my mother has suffered by my
Pearson fault, whatever I have done amiss, and whatever duty I have negMSS. lected. Let me not sink into useless dejection ; but so sanctify my
affliction, O Lord, that I may be converted and healed ; and that, by the help of thy holy spirit, I may obtain everlasting life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
6 And O Lord, so far as it may be lawful, I commend unto thy fatherly goodness my father, brother, wife and mother, beseeching thee to make them happy for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen."
"SCRUPLES “ O Lord, who wouldst that all men should be saved, and who knowest that without thy grace we can do nothing acceptable to thee, have mercy upon me. Enable me to break the chain of
my sins, to reject sensuality in thought, and to overcome and suppress vain scruples; and to use such diligence in lawful employment as may enable me to support myself and do good to others. O Lord, forgive me the time lost in idleness ; pardon the sins which I have committed, and grant that I may redeem the time mispent, and be reconciled to thee by true repentance, that I may live and die in
“ Transc. June 26, 1768. Of this prayer there is no date, nor can I conjecture when it was composed."
ACCOUNT of Dr. Johnson's last Dinner at Streatham.
“ Oct. 6, Die Dominica, 1782. “ Pransus sum Streathamiæ agninum crus coctum cum herbis (spinach) comminutis, farcimen farinaceum cum uvis passis, lumbos bovillos, et pullum gallinæ Turcicæ; et post carnes missas, ficus, uvas, non admodum maturas, ita voluit anni intemperies, cum malis Persicis, iis tamen duris. Non lætus accubui, cibum modicè sumpsi, ne intemperantiâ ad extremum peccaretur. Si recte memini, in mentem venerunt epulæ in exequiis Hadoni celebratæ. Streathamiam quando revisam?"
[He seems to have taken leave of the kitchen as well as of the church at Streatham in Latin. See ante, vol. v. p. 37. The phrase "ne int atiâ ad extremum peccaretur” is remarkable, and proves that this, which at first sight looks like burlesque, was written when in sober sadness.--Ed.]
A POETICAL REVIEW
Of the Literary and Moral Character of the late
SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D.
LONDON: PRINTED FOR CHARLES DILLY, IN THE POULTRY, 1786.
The following poem was never very popular, and is now so scarce that it Ed.
was not without difficulty that a copy was procured on this occasion to print from. The subject,“ sermoni proprior,” is not favourable to poetry; the criticism is sometimes superficial and erroneous; and the raillery frequently offends good feeling and good taste. It is, however, with all its defects, and, indeed, on account of these defects, deserving a place in this collection of Johnsoniana, not only as a tribute to the general excelma lence of Dr. Johnson's character, but in order that some of the errors
it contains may be corrected. The author, once a considerable person in the political and literary world,
is fading so fast from public memory, that the editor is glad to be able to present his readers with the following biographical notice of Mr. Courtenay, from the pen of their common friend, Sir James Mackintosh.
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICE OF MR. COURTENAY.
John COURTENAY was so intimate a friend of Boswell, and so long Mackina member of the club, founded by Johnson, that a short account of tosh, him
inay not be misplaced in this work. He was born at Carlingford, in August, 1738. The first of his family in Ireland settled there in the reign of Elizabeth, and married a sister of the Deputy Chichester, as appears from a monument at Carrickfergus. His grandfather served under King William at the
[These two mottos would suit Mr. Boswell's work better than Mr. Courtenay’s. The reader will observe in the latter quotation the original of Pope's celebrated and beautiful compliment to St. John.---Essay on Man, Epist. iv. I. 385.—En.]
His father, a younger son, obtained a situation in the re
He was himself educated at the school of Dundalk, where he read and relished the best writers of Greece and Rome; but he became so much infected with a passion for the army, or rather, for its show and dissipation, that he would not gratify his father by pursuing his studies at the university.
In 1756 he purchased an ensigncy, and seems to have combined the conviviality of the time with desultory reading and careless composition. In 1765, when on the eve of purchasing a company, he was disappointed by an accident : he relinquished the army in a fit of ill humour, and applied the purchase-money to buy the place of a commissary of musters, thus unfortunately renouncing all regular advancement in a profession. He married, obtained leave to sell his place, and, after paying his debts, found himself possessed of six hundred pounds.
About that time, Dr. Lucas, a man then popular at Dublin, had published a severe pamphlet against the sentence of a court-martial. Courtenay, prompted by old military feelings, employed his very idle hours in an answer, which obtained some commendation, and earned for him the patronage of Lord Townshend, then lord-lieutenant. He soon after became one of the writers of the “ Bachelor,” a government paper, conducted by Simcox, a clergyman, but chiefly written by Courtenay, Marlay', afterward a bishop, and Jephson, a dramatic poet of note. It was a main part of the task of these advocates of the Castle to counteract the “ Baratarian Letters,” an Irish imitation of Junius, which, attacking the lord-lieutenant's government, received contributions from Flood, and first published Grattan's character of Chatham. Previous to the recall of the lord-lieutenant he gave
Courtenay the place of barrack-master of Kinsale, and soon after his return to England appointed him secretary to the master-general of the ordnance. Though in that confidential relation to a minister, Courtenay agreed more in opinion, and was more connected with the Opposition, as may be pretty certainly inferred from his intimacy with Mr. Windham, then an oppositionist of more than common violence, who used to meet him often at the Thatched-house, as Courtenay said, to drink a glass to the health of General Washington.
In 1780, Lord Townshend gave him a seat for Tamworth, which he long retained. He sometimes made ineffectual attempts to vindicate his consistency in voting for the minister, on the plea that he could no longer support the Americans after they had received French aid ; as if those, whom he considered as exposing themselves to destruction in a righteous cause, might not lawfully seek for succour wherever they could find it. This, however, was the period of his chief success in parliament. He was then invited often to the evening
? (Ante, vol. iv. p. 443.-Ed.]
convivial parties of Rigby, a man of wit and pleasure: he became an Mackinintimate friend of Mr. Gerard Hamilton, a man of considerable literature and of fastidious taste in his companions, and of Boswell, a zealous but good-natured tory.
At the coalition, in 1783, he was appointed surveyor-general of the ordnance. After the expulsion of that administration, he refused to retain the office, which was handsomely offered to him by the Duke of Richmond : the letters of both do them credit. Henceforwards he attached himself to Mr. Fox, during a long and rigid exclusion from office. On one occasion he took a step not believed to be agreeable to that great man. At a dinner at Lord Lauderdale's, in Leicestersquare, in .spring 1792, he put his name, with others, of whom the present writer was one, to the Association of the “ Friends of the People for the promotion of Parliamentary Reform," saying, as he pushed the writing materials on to his next neighbour, “ There goes Tamworth.” Mr. Fox, with difficulty, saved him from the necessity of leaving England in 1796 and in 1802, by procuring a seat for him.
In 1806, Mr. Fox wished to have restored him to the ordnance, but a high influence obtained that place for another, and Courtenay, after twenty-five years of opposition, had a twelvemonth's seat at the treasury.
In 1812, when aged, lonely, infirm, and nearly bed-ridden, he was rescued from cruel sufferings by the generosity of the late Lord Thanet. Even in that situation, when found at his dinner, consisting of the claw of a lobster, by one of his few visiters, he used to make his repast a subject of merriment.
The happy marriages of two daughters were, for a short time, bright spots in his little sphere; but though his life was unprosperous, it was not, thanks to his temper, unhappy. The consolations of friendship he deserved and possessed among political opponents in times of much heat. Mr. Windham and Lord Stowell, Mr. Malone, and even Mr. Burke, continued to show kindness to him. He was frequently a guest of Sir Joshua Reynolds, of whose table he gave an amusing description (which is inserted ante, vol. iii.
p. 444]. His parliamentary speeches, by which he was best known, did injustice to his
He was in truth a man of fine talents, and of various accomplishments, which rendered his conversation agreeable, as his good-nature and kind heart obtained for him the attachment of many excellent friends. But, from his speeches, strangers mistook him for a jester by profession. Every Irishman has wit, but Courtenay's drollery had not that polish and urbanity, of which pleasantry stands in greater need than perhaps any other endowment.
He fell into two not easily forgotten mistakes ; the one was a somewhat unrefined attack on Mr. Canning, whom he mistook for a declaiming schoolboy; the other was an attack on Mr. Wilberforce,