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time. My note had, on his own reflection, softened him, for he received me very complacently; so that I unexpectedly found myself at ease, and joined in the conversation.

He said, the critics had done too much honour to Sir. Richard Blackmore, by writing so much against him. That in his “ Creation” he had been helped by various wits,-a line by Phillips, and a line by Tickell ; so that by their aid, and that of others, the poem had been made out."

I defended Blackmore's supposed lines, which have been ridiculed as absolute nonsense :

“A painted vest Prince Vortiger had on,

Which from a naked Pict his grandsire won."? I maintained it to be a poetical conceit. A Pict being painted, if he is slain in battle, and a vest is made of his skin, it is a painted vest won from him, though he was naked.

Johnson spoke unfavourably of a certain pretty voluminous author, saying, “ He used to write anonymous books, and then other books commending those books, in which there was something of rascality.”

I whispered him, “Well, Sir, you are now in good humour.” JohnSON : “ Yes, Sir.” I was going to leave him, and had got as far as the staircase. He stopped me, and smiling, said, “Get you gone in : ” a curious mode of inviting me to stay, which I accordingly did for some time longer.

This little incidental quarrel and reconciliation, which, perhaps, I may be thought to have detailed too minutely, must be esteemed as one of many proofs which his friends had, that though he might be charged with bad humour at times, he was always a good-natured man ; and I have heard Sir Joshua Reynolds, a nice and delicate observer of manners, particularly remark, that when upon any occasion Johnson had been rough to any person in company, he took the first opportunity of reconciliation, by drinking to him, or addressing his discourse to him ; but if he found his dignified indirect overtures sullenly neglected, he was quite indifferent, and considered himself as having done all that he ought to do, and the other as now in the wrong.

1 Johnson himself has vindicated Blackmore upon this very point. See " The Lives of the Poets," vol. iii., p. 75, Sro, 1791.-J. BOSWELL, Jux.

9 An acute correspondent of “The European Magazine," April, 1792, has completely exposed a mistake which has been unaccountably frequent in ascribing these lines to Blackmore, notwithstanding that Sir Richard Steele, in that very popular work, “The Spectator," mentions them as written by the author of "The British Princes," the Hon. Edwand Howard. The correspondent above mentioned, shows this mistake to be so inveterate, that not only I defended the lines as Blackmore's in the presence of Dr. Johnson, without any contradiction or doubt of their authenticity, but that the Reverend Mr. Whitaker has asserted in print, that he understands they were suppressed in the late edition or editions of Blackmore. "After all," says this intelligent writer, “it is not ruworthy of particular observation, that these lines so often quoted do not exist either in Blackmore or Howard." In “The British Princes," Sro, 1669, now before me, f. 96, they stand thus:

** A vest as admired Vortiger had on,

Which from this Island's foes his grandsire won,
Whose artrii colour pass'd the Tyrian dye,

Obliged to triumph in this legacy." It is probable, I think, that some wag, in order to make Howard still more ridiculous than he really was formed the couplet as it now circulates.-BOSWELL.

Being to set out for Scotland on the 10th of November, I wrote to him at Streatham, begging that he would meet me in town on the 9th: but if this should be very inconvenient to him, I would go thither. His answer was as follows :


Nov. 9, 1769. “Upon balancing the inconveniences of both parties, I' find it will less incommode you to spend your night here, than me to come to town. I wish to see you, and am ordered by the lady of this house to invite you hither. Whether you can come or not, I shall not have any occasion of writing to you again before your marriage, and therefore tell you now, that with great sincerity I wish you happiness. “I am, dear Sir, your most affectionate humble servant,

“SAM. JOHNSON.” I was detained in town till it was too late on the 9th, so went to him early in the morning of the 10th of November. Now," said he, " that you are going to marry, do not expect more from life than life will afford. You may often find yourself out of humour, and you may cften think your wife not studious enough to please you; and yet you may have reason to consider yourself as upon the whole very happily married.”

Talking of marriage in general, he observed,“ Our marriage service is too refined. It is calculated only for the best kind of marriages ; whereas, we should have a form for matches of convenience, of which there are many.” He agreed with me that there was no absolute necessity for having the marriage ceremony performed by a regular clergyman, for this was not commanded in scripture.

I was volatile enough to repeat to him a little epigrammatic song of mine, on matrimony, which Mr. Garrick had a few days before procured to be set to music by the very ingenious Mr. Dibdin.


“ In the blythe days of honeymoon,

With Kate's allurements smitten,
I loved her late, I loved her soon,

And call'd her dearest kitten.

“But now my kitten's grown a cat,

And cross like other wives,
Oh ! by my soul, my honest Mat,

I fear she has nine lives."


My illustrious friend said, “ It is very well, Sir ; but you should not swear.” Upon which I altered “Oh! by my soul,” to Alas, alas !"

He was so good as to accompany me to London, and see me into the post-chaise which was to carry me on my road to Scotland. And sure I am, that however inconsiderable many of the particulars recorded at this time may appear to some, they will be esteemed by the best part of my readers as genuine traits of his character, contributing together to give a full, fair, and distinct view of it.

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IN 1770, he published a political pamphlet, entitled “The False Alarm,”

intended to justify the conduct of the ministry and their majority in the House of Commons, for having virtually assumed it as an axiom, that the expulsion of a member of parliament was equivalent to exclusion, and thus having declared Colonel Luttrell to be duly elected for the county of Middlesex, notwithstanding Mr. Wilkes had a great majority of votes. This being justly considered as a gross violation of the right of election, an alarm for the constitution extended itself all over the kingdom. To prove this alarm to be false was the purpose of Johnson's pamphlet ; but even his vast powers are inadequate to cope with constitutional truth and reason, and his argument failed of effect; and the House of Commons have since expunged the offensive resolution from their Journals. That the House of Commons might have expelled Mr. Wilkes repeatedly, and as often as he should be re-chosen, was not denied

but incapacitation cannot be but by an act of the whole legislature. It was wonderful to see how a prejudice in favour of government in general, and an aversion to popular clamour, could blind and contract such an understanding as Johnson's, in this particular case ; yet the wit, the sarcasm, the eloquent vivacity which this pamphlet displayed, made it be read with great avidity at the time, and it will ever be read with pleasure, for the sake of its composition. That it endeavoured to infuse a narcotic indifference, as to public concerns, into the minds of the people, and that it broke out sometimes into an extreme coarseness of contemptuous abuse, is but too evident.

It must not, however, be omitted, that when the storm of his violence subsides, he takes a fair opportunity to pay a grateful compliment to the king, who had rewarded his merit :

“These low-born railers have endeavoured, surely without effect, to alienate the affections of the people from the only king who, for almost a century, has much appeared to desire, or much endeavoured to deserve them.” And, “Every honest man must lament, that the faction has been regarded with frigid neutrality by the Tories, who, being long accustomed to signalise their principles by opposition to the court, do not yet consider, that they have at last a king who knows not the name of party, and who wishes to be the common father of all his people.”

To this pamphlet, which was at once discovered to be Johnson's, several answers came out, in which care was taken to remind the public of his former attacks upon government, and of his now being a pensioner, without allowing for the honourable terms upon which Johnson's pension was granted and accepted, or the change of system which the British court had undergone upon the accession of his present Majesty. He was, however, soothed in the highest strain of panegyric, in a poem called “The Remonstrance,” by the Reverend Mr. Stockdale, to whom he was, upon many occasions, a kind protector.

The following admirable minute made by him, describe so well his own state and that of numbers to whom self-examination is habitual, that I cannot omit it :

“June 1, 1770. Every man naturally persuades himself that he can keep his resolutions, nor is he convinced of his imbecility but by length of time and frequency of experiment. This opinion of our own constancy is so prevalent, that we always despise him who suffers his general and settled purpose to be overpowered by an occasional desire. They, therefore, whom frequent failures have made desperate, cease to form resolutions; and they who are become cunning, do not tell them. Those who do not make them are very few, but of their effect little is perceived; for scarcely any man persists in a course of life planned by choice, but as he is restrained from deviation by some external power. He who may live as he will, seldom lives: long in the observation of his own rules.” 1

1 " Prayers and Meditations,” p. 95.-BOSWELL.

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