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table: “Oh, Sir, I have found out a very good reason why Dr. Percy never heard Mounsey swear or talk bawdy, for he tells me he never saw him but at the Duke of Northumberland's table.'
“ And so, Sir," said Dr. Johnson loudly to Dr. Percy, "you would shield this man from the charge of swearing and talking bawdy, because he did not do so at the Duke of Northumberland's table. Sir, you might as well tell us that you had seen him hold up his hand at the Old Bailey, and he neither swore nor talked bawdy; or that you had seen him in the cart at Tyburn, and he neither swore nor talked bawdy. And is it thus, Sir, that you presume to controvert what I have related ?” Dr. Johnson's animadversion was uttered in such a manner, that Dr. Percy seemed to be displeased, and soon afterwards left the company, of which Johnson did not at that time take
notice. Swift having been mentioned, Johnson, as usual, treated him with little respect as an author, Some of us endeavoured to support the Dean of St. Patrick's, by various arguments. One in particular praised his “Conduct of the Allies.” JOHNSON : “Sir, his • Conduct of the Allies' is a performance of very little ability."
Surely, Sir,” said Dr. Douglas, "you must allow it has strong facts.” 1 JOHNSON: “ Why, yes, Sir; but what is that to the merit of the composition ? In the Sessions-paper of the Old Bailey there are strong facts. House-breaking is a strong fact; robbery is a strong fact; and murder is a mighty strong fact: but is great praise due to the historian of those strong facts ? No, Sir, Swift has told what he had to tell distinctly enough, but that is all. He had to count ten, and he has counted it right.”—Then recollecting that Mr. Davies, by acting as an informer, had been the occasion of his talking somewhat too harshly to his friend Dr. Percy, for which, probably, when the first ebullition was over, he felt some compunction, he took an opportunity to give him a hit: so added, with a preparatory laugh, “Why, Sir, Tom Davies
1 My respectable friend, upon reading this passage, observed that he probably must have said not simply “strong facts,” but “strong facts well arranged." His lordship, however, knows too well the value of written documents to insist on setting his recollection against my notes taken at the time. He does not attempt to traverse the record. The fact, perhaps, may have been, either that the additional words escaped me in the noise of a numerous coinpany, or that Dr. Johnson, from his impetuosity and eagerness to seize an opportunity to make a lively retort, did not allow Dr. Douglas to finish his sentence.-BOSWELL.
might have written the Conduct of the Allies.'” Poor Tom being thus suddenly dragged into ludicrous notice in presence of the Scottish Doctors, to whom he was ambitious of appearing to advantage, was grievously mortified. Nor did his punishment rest here ; for upon subsequent occasions, whenever he, “statesman all o’er,"] assumed a strutting importance, I used to hail him—“The Author of the Conduct of the Allies.”
When I called upon Dr. Johnson next morning, I found him highly satisfied with his colloquial prowess the preceding evening. “Well,” said he,
we had good talk.” BOSWELL: “Yes, Sir, you tossed and gored several persons.”
The late Alexander Earl of Eglintoune, who loved wit more than wine, and men of genius more than sycophants, had a great admiration of Johnson; but from the remarkable elegance of his own manners, was, perhaps, too delicately sensible of the roughness which sometimes appeared in Johnson's behaviour. One evening about this time, when his lordship did me the honour to sup at my lodgings with Dr. Robertson and several other men of literary distinction, he regretted that Johnson had not been educated with more refinement, and lived more in polished society. “No, no, my Lord,” said Signor Baretti, “ do with him what you would, he would always have been a bear." “True," answered the Earl, with a smile, “but he would have been a dancing bear.”
To obviate all the reflections which have gone round the world to Johnson's prejudice, by applying to him the epithet of a bear, let me impress upon my readers a just and happy saying of my friend Goldsmith, who knew him well : “Johnson, to be sure, has a roughness in his manner; but no man alive has a more tender heart. He has nothing of the bear but his skin.”
See the hard drawing of him in Churchill's ROSCIAD.-BOSWELL.
JOHNSON APPOINTED PROFESSOR OF ANCIENT LITERATURE-BOSWELL AT THE STRATFORD
JUBILEE-HIS ACCOUNT OF CORSICA-SCOTCH GARDENING-JOHNSON AND BOSWELL Visit MR. AND MRS. THRALE-BOSWELL INTRODUCES JOHNSON TO GENERAL PAOLIGOLDSMITH'S TAILOR-MRS. MONTAGU's Essay ON SHAKSPEARE-FOOTE-BARETTI'S TRIAL -MRS. WILLIAMS'S TEA-TABLE-JOHNSON'S VIEWS OF ROMANISM AND CONVERSION TO
POPERY-THE MARRIAGE SERVICE. IN 1769, so far as I can discover, the public was favoured with
nothing of Johnson's composition, either for himself or any of his friends. His “ Meditations ” too strongly prove that he suffered much both in body and mind; yet was he perpetually striving against evil, and nobly endeavouring to advance his intellectual and devotional improvement. Every generous and grateful heart must feel for the distresses of so eminent a benefactor to mankind; and now that his unhappiness is certainly known, must respect that dignity of character which prevented him from complaining.
His Majesty having the preceding year instituted the Royal Academy of Arts in London, Johnson had now the honour of being appointed Professor in Ancient Literature. In the course of the year he wrote some letters to Mrs. Thrale, passed some part of the summer at Oxford and at Lichfield, and when at Oxford he wrote the following letter :
1 In which place he has been succeeded by Bennet Langton, Esq. When that truly reli gious gentleman was elected to this honorary Professorship, at the same time that Edward Gibbon, Esq., noted for introducing a kind of sneering infidelity into his Historical Writings, was elected Professor in Ancient History, in the room of Dr. Goldsmith, I observed that it brought to my mind, "Wicked Will Whiston and good Mr. Ditton.”—I am now also of that admirable institution as Secretary for Foreign Correspondence, by the favour of the Academicians and the approbation of the sovereign.-BOSWELL
"TO TIE REVEREND MR. THOMAS WARTON. “DEAR SIR,
May 31, 1769. “Many years ago, when I used to read in the library of your college, I promised to recompense the college for that permission, by adding to their books a Baskerville’s Virgil. I have now sent it, and desire you to deposit it on the shelves in my name.
“ If you will be pleased to let me know when you have an hour of leisure, I will drink tea with you. I am engaged for the afternoon, to-morrow, and on Friday : all my mornings are my own.? I am, &c.,
“ SAM. JOHNSON."
I came to London in the autumn, and having informed him that I was going to be married in a few months, I wished to have as much of and regretted. The only trace of him there, was in the whimsical advertisement of a haberdasher, who sold Shaksperian ribands of various dyes; and, by way of illustrating their appropriation to the bard, introduced a line from the celebrated Prologue at the opening of Drury-lane theatre :
his conversation as I could before engaging in a state of life which would probably keep me more in Scotland, and prevent me seeing him so often as when I was a single man ; but I found he was at Brighthelmstone with Mr.and Mrs. Thrale. I was very sorry that I had not his company with me at the Jubilee, in honour of Shakspeare, at Stratford-upon-Avon, the great poet's native town. Johnson's connection both with Shakspeare and Garrick foundedadouble claim to his presence ; and it would have been highly gratifying to Mr. Garrick. Upon this occasion I particularly lamented that he had not that warmth of friendship for his brilliant pupil, which we may suppose would have had a benignant effect on both. When almost every man of eminence in the literary
world was happy to partake in this festival of genius, the absence of Johnson could not but be wondered at
1 "It has this inscription in a blank leaf: 'Hunc librum D. D. Samuel Johnson, eo quod hic loci studiis interdum vacaret.' Of this library, which is an old Gothic room, he was very fond. On my observing to him that some of the modern libraries of the University were more commodious and pleasant for study, as being more spacious and airy, he replied "Sir, if a man has a mind to prance, he must study at Christ Church and All-Souls.'"WARTON
2 " During this visit he seldom or never dined out. He appeared to be deeply engaged in some literary work. Miss Williams was now with him at Oxford."-WARTON.
“Each change of many-colour'd life he drew." From Brighthelmstone Dr. Johnson wrote me the following letter, which they who may think I ought to have suppressed, must have less ardent feelings than I have always avowed.
" TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ. “ DEAR SIR,
Brighthelmstone, Sept. 9, 1769. “Why do you charge me with unkindness ? I have omitted nothing that could do you good, or give you pleasure, unless it be that I have forborne to tell you my opinion of your' Account of Corsica.' I believe my opinion, if you think well of my judgment, might have given you pleasure; but when it is considered how much vanity is excited by praise, I am not sure that it would have done you good. Your history is like other histories, but your Journal is, in a very high degree, curious and delightful. There is between the history and the journal that difference which there will always be found between notions borrowed from without, and notions generated within. Your history was copied from books; your journal rose out of your own experience and observation. You express images which operated strongly upon yourself, and you have impressed them with great force upon your readers. I know not whether I could name any narrative by which curiosity is better excited or better gratified.
“I am glad that you are going to be married ; and as I wish you well in things of less importance, wish you well, with proportionate ardour, in this crisis of your life. What I can contribute to your happiness, I should be very unwilling to withhold : for I have always loved and valued you, and shall love you and value you still more, as you become more regular and useful: effects which a happy marriage will hardly fail to produce.
“I do not find that I am likely to come back very soon from this place. I
1 In the Preface of my “ Account of Corsica,” published in 1768, I thus express myself:“He who publishes a book affecting not to be an anthor, and professing an indifference for literary fame, may possibly impose upon many people such an idea of his consequence as he wishes may be received. For my part I should be proud to be known as an author, and I have an ardent ambition for literary fame; for, of all possessions I should imagine literary fame to be the most valuable. A man who has been able to furnish a book, which has been approved by the world, has established himself as a respectable character in distant society, without any danger of having that character lessened by the observation of his weaknesses. To preserve an uniform dignity among those who see us every day, is hardly possible; and to aim at it, must put us under the fetters of perpetual restraint. The author of an approved book may allow his natural disposition an easy play, and yet indulge the pride of superior genius, when he considers that by those who know him only as an author, he never ceases to be respected. Such an author, when in his hours of gloom and discontent, may have the consolation to think that his writings are at that very time giving pleasure to numbers; and such an author may cherish the hope of being remembered after death; which has been a great object to the noblest minds in all ages."—BOSWELL.